We've barely started spring and I'm already thinking about the fall.
No, this is not a wish to fast-forward through the most glorious four-month span of Minnesota weather — mid-May to mid-September — but rather an acknowledgement that when the Vikings schedule came out late last week, I wasn't able to give it proper attention because all resources were being poured into the Wild's playoff series.
Yeah, remember that? Game 6 was less than a week ago, which might come as a surprise if you've wiped that memory clean.
The NFL schedule release is a somewhat ridiculous bit of show business, given that the league determines months in advance the home and away schedules for each team. All they do in prime time is tell you the order.
And yet that makes a difference, as I found out Tuesday when I went game-by-game on the Daily Delivery podcast.
Here's how I see it playing out:
- The Vikings have six games before the bye, starting with the huge opener against the Packers. Between that game and a prime-time Monday night game at Philadelphia in Week 2, the Vikings would probably be happy with a split — and I think they will get it. We will hear that the Packers game will determine their fate this season, and we will hear plenty about Kirk Cousins' dismal prime time record.
- Beyond that start, the schedule before the break is pretty light: home against the Lions, neutral in London vs. the Saints, home against the Bears and at Miami. Assuming a split in the first two games, the Vikings should be able to get to the bye at 4-2.
- Out of the bye, it's another home game against Arizona, which might be really bad in 2022 and should be a win. Then tough road games against Washington and Buffalo, but I'll give the Vikings a win in the Cousins revenge game in Washington. So let's say 6-3.
- Then it's three in a row at home against Dallas, New England and the Jets. Give them two wins in that span.
- Give the Vikings their usual road L against the Lions, then home wins over the Colts and Giants to put them at 10-5 and on the cusp of a division title.
- Then end the year with two losses at Green Bay and Chicago for a 10-7 season and a wild-card berth, which fans will complain about even though it's progress.