Vikings’ strength of schedule is NFL’s fifth easiest

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Aug 9, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) dives for the end zone during the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 9, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) dives for the end zone during the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are coming off of a disappointing 2016 campaign in which so much had been expected of them. There was great hype surrounding this Minnesota team that was thought to take the next big step forward. After a 5-0 start, they looked like a potential Super Bowl contender, but then plummeted, losing 8 of their next 11, while failing to reach the playoffs.

Many hope that 2016 was an outlier and will not become a recurring theme for Minnesota during the Mike Zimmer era. There is faith that the Vikings will rebound in 2017 and once again be playoff bound, returning to where they left off in 2015 when they captured the NFC North title.


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Minnesota Vikings 2017 Schedule

Home:  Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Buccaneers

Away:  Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns (Week 8, London), Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins

It looked as if Zimmer had this team on the right track after improving from a 7-9 record in his first season as head coach to an 11-5 finish in his second while earning a trip to the playoffs. After finishing 8-8 last year, it left many feeling that the Vikings had not lived up to the potential created by Zimmer through his first two seasons.

2017 is a new year and a new chance for Zimmer and the Vikings to right the ship and keep it from running aground. With a schedule that is considered the fifth easiest in the league and the easiest in the NFC, Minnesota has a golden opportunity to reclaim the NFC North and assert themselves as a postseason contender.

Despite the soft schedule, it is not without its challenges. It has the Vikings matching up against some of the NFL’s toughest teams with road games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons and of course, two games each with the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.

On the other side of the coin, the Vikings get some of last season’s worst teams with contests against the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams and the Chicago Bears, twice. Minnesota’s 2017 opponents, combined, had a 115-139-2 record last season, which comes out to a .453 win percentage and just six made the playoffs.

If the Vikings can address the roster issues that derailed their 2016 season, they should be able to turn things around in 2017 and be the team that many expected they would become. With Minnesota hosting the Super Bowl next year, there is an added incentive at the end of the Yellow Brick Road.

– Miles Dittberner, is the National Editor of cover32 and also covers the Minnesota Vikings. Like and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

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