Jim Souhan
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One of the NFL's enduring cliches is that it doesn't matter who you play, but when you play them.

Check back next week, when we say the same thing.

And the week after that.

And maybe the week after that.

On Sunday morning, Central Time, the Vikings will play the injury-depleted Saints in London.

Had the game been played in the States, the Vikings would have traveled to New Orleans to play in the Superdome, site of one of the most notable home-field advantages in sports.

Instead, the Vikings will play the Saints on a neutral site and will face their erratic quarterback, Andy Dalton (and his walker), instead of their injured-and-erratic quarterback, Jameis Winston. Or Taysom Hill, the tight end/quarterback who probably scares the Vikings the most but will likely go underused.

The Vikings have offered three different efforts in three different circumstances so far, and are lucky to be 2-1. Their luck could continue.

Luck matters.

The Vikings had their most dominant regular season ever in 1998. That team went 15-1 and outscored opponents by 260 points, the largest differential in franchise history. The only other Vikings team that outscored opponents by 200 points was the 1969 team, which had a plus-246 differential.

The '98 team was excellent — and lucky.

Here are the quarterbacks the '98 team faced: Trent Dilfer twice, Tony Banks, Charlie Batch, Erik Kramer, Brett Favre twice, Gus Frerotte, Billy Joe Tolliver, Neil O'Donnell, Troy Aikman near the end of his career, Steve Stenstrom, Jim Harbaugh, Jonathan Quinn, Steve McNair, Jake Plummer and Chris Chandler.

Most of the Vikings' games came against quarterbacks who couldn't keep up with the Vikings' exceptional offense. That meant blowouts, and extra rest for star players, and little stress until the playoffs.

The 2022 Vikings aren't as talented as the '98 team, but they could have a similar run of success, thanks to what increasingly looks like an easy schedule filled with poor or erratic quarterbacking.

After Dalton/Hill, the Vikings will play at home against the Chicago Bears, who have a chance to be one of the worst passing teams in modern NFL history.

The following week, the Vikings travel to Miami, which, before Thursday, would have represented one of their toughest tests. Instead, the Dolphins stupidly and shamefully played Tua Tagovailoa four days after he suffered an obvious head injury last Sunday. He suffered another obvious head injury on Thursday night in Cincinnati and had to be stretchered off the field.

In five days, the Dolphins went from being one of the best stories in the league to being a grotesque example of NFL irresponsibility.

After the trip to Miami, the Vikings get a bye week to recover from the heat, then play at home against the erratic Arizona Cardinals, who have lost six of their past eight games dating back to last season.

In mid-November, the Vikings play at Washington, who also have lost six of their past eight games, and who employ the regrettable Carson Wentz.

Until the Vikings travel to Lambeau Field on Jan. 1, they play only one intimidating team: the Buffalo Bills.

The Vikings have problems of their own.

Their pass rush is a mystery.

They spent their first two draft picks on players to upgrade their secondary, but safety Lewis Cine and cornerback Andrew Booth have yet to play in the base defense.

They have to prove they know how to get the most out of Justin Jefferson when defenses actually cover him. (They are quite lucky the Packers decided not to.)

Dalvin Cook is already playing hurt. And the middle of the offensive line needs to improve in pass protection. And they almost lost at home to Detroit. And they had no answers for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles' offense.

Luck and timing matter in the NFL. If Kirk Cousins remains healthy and the Vikings adapt to their new schemes, they should win at least 11 or 12 games against the array of mediocrity on their schedule.