2016 is going to be a big year for the Minnesota Vikings. With victory over the Packers in week 17 of the 2015 season, they’ll enter their new US Bank Stadium as division champions for the 19th time, the most of any of their NFC North/Central rivals since they were established in 1961. But winning your division comes with drawbacks; the Vikings will have to play at home against the NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals, and on the road against the NFC South-winning Carolina Panthers. Fortunately, they’ll also be playing all four teams from each of the two worst divisions in the NFL, the NFC East and the AFC South, which produced just two teams with a winning record between them in 2015, the Texans and the Washington franchise. These are the Vikings’ scheduled opponents for 2016: HOME AWAY Bears Bears Lions Lions Packers Packers Cowboys Eagles Giants Washington Texans Jaguars Colts Titans Cardinals Panthers So which opponents will the Vikings be looking forward to facing in 2016, which will be making them quake in their cleats already, and which game will have most eyes on it?
Nice and easy
As I mentioned, the Vikings are playing against teams from the two worst divisions in football in 2016, and with that comes the prospect of playing against the very worst team in football, the Tennessee Titans. Even though the game will be played in Nashville and the Titans have one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the league in Marcus Mariota, the Vikings have a star of their own in the making in Teddy Bridgewater and should have no trouble sweeping aside a team that won just three games in 2015.
Games in the NFC North are never the most friendly of encounters, particularly clashes against the Packers, but with the Cardinals and the Panthers on the Vikings’ schedule next season, their divisional contests will have to take a back seat in 2016. The home game against the Cards won’t be easy, but the trip to Charlotte to play the Panthers will undoubtedly be the biggest of all.
I think it goes without saying that one of the Vikings’ encounters with the Packers in 2016 will make it to a prime time slot, probably the one at US Bank Stadium. The two were neck-and-neck for the NFC North title throughout 2015 and unless everything goes pear-shaped for one of them in the off season, there’s no reason why they won’t be competing for another title next year, leading to a matchup that no one will want to miss. So the Vikings face an interesting schedule in 2016. They’ll go into games against opponents from the NFC East and the AFC South with a lot of confidence based on this year’s performances, and the same probably goes for meetings with the Lions and the Bears. But with Arizona and Carolina on the horizon, and the annual double-header against Green Bay, Minnesota has a lot to look forward to.