Vikings' division foes prepared to fill needs

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 25, 2012 - 11:53 PM

When the Vikings' schedule was released last week, eternal optimists saw a window of opportunity, a seemingly soft itinerary and a sudden opening on the path back to NFL relevance. After all, the Vikings' first two games -- vs. Jacksonville on Sept. 9 and at Indianapolis the following Sunday -- come against teams that went a combined 7-25 in 2011.

Here we come, quick start. And what about that stretch of winnable October home games against Tennessee, Arizona and Tampa Bay?

You can hear those 8-8 bells ringing now.

Of course, the great equalizer in all this hopefulness is the reminder that the Vikings still reside in the NFC North, a powerful division that very well could produce three playoff teams in 2012. Keep in mind, the Vikings have lost 11 of their 12 division games the past two seasons.

So just what might Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago do in the draft to enhance their power? Here's a look:

GREEN BAY

Draft summary: Doesn't seem fair. A team that went 15-1 last season has 12 overall picks and six in the top 135.

Top pick: Selecting 28th in the first round, the Packers might covet Boise State's Shea McClellin, a versatile player who could flourish as an outside linebacker in Green Bay's 3-4 defense. Keep in mind, the Packers need to enhance their pass rush after allowing a league-most 412 yards per game in 2011 while compiling only 29 sacks (fifth worst in the NFL). Translation: Clay Matthews needs help applying pressure. Keep an eye on McClellin plus a pair of defensive tackles -- Michigan State's Jerel Worthy and Connecticut's Kendall Reyes -- as possible early targets.

Other needs: With Matt Flynn now in Seattle, Green Bay will have to decide whether it is comfortable with Graham Harrell as Aaron Rodgers' backup or whether it would like to find a better No. 2 option this weekend. Safety Nick Collins was released after a serious neck injury, and General Manager Ted Thompson might seek help at that position as well.

DETROIT

Draft summary: For only the third time since 2001, the Lions don't own a top 10-pick. Overall, they have seven selections.

Top pick: Detroit likely will grab a defensive back at No. 23. Eric Wright's departure to Tampa Bay via free agency leaves an opening for a starting cornerback, and there's an obvious need to upgrade a secondary that allowed 466 passing yards in a playoff loss to New Orleans. Alabama safety Mark Barron is on the Lions' radar. Corners Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) and Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina) also would be fantastic gets if still available.

Other needs: An aging offensive line needs to be addressed, especially with left tackle Jeff Backus recovering from biceps surgery. The Lions also need to find some complementary parts on offense, and they likely will seek a running back in the middle rounds to provide insurance for Jahvid Best's questionable durability. Receiver help would be a plus, too.

CHICAGO

Draft summary: The Bears have seven picks, one each in the middle of every round.

Top pick: At No. 19, Chicago might hope Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd falls that far. But if he doesn't, look for the Bears to target a promising defensive end -- maybe Illinois' Whitney Mercilus, North Carolina's Quinton Coples or Syracuse's Chandler Jones -- defensive tackle Michael Brockers of LSU, or an offensive tackle like Stanford's Jonathan Martin.

Other needs: The Bears added offensive firepower and depth in free agency, landing Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall plus talented backups at running back (Michael Bush) and quarterback (Jason Campbell). But the biggest lesson learned in 2011 is they have to find ways to refurbish their O-line to keep Jay Cutler healthy. Also, finding valuable reinforcements at defensive tackle, linebacker and safety will be on the wish list.

  • NFC NORTH

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Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 2:30 PM
Toronto
Memphis 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Boston 5:00 PM
Miami
Detroit 5:00 PM
Brooklyn
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Orlando
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Washington
Indiana 6:00 PM
Minnesota
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Detroit
Dallas 5:00 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 3 1st Half 13:53
Virginia 14
Maine 12:00 PM
Army
Ferris State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
San Francisco 12:00 PM
Cleveland State
Oregon State 12:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Coastal Carolina 12:30 PM
Central Arkansas
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
Canisius
Southern Miss 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
UNC-Asheville
Creighton 1:00 PM
North Texas
Maryland 1:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cornell 1:00 PM
Radford
Vermont 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Loyola-Maryland 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Reinhardt 1:00 PM
Winthrop
Ark-Little Rock 1:00 PM
Green Bay
TX-Pan American 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Alabama State 1:05 PM
Evansville
FIU 1:30 PM
Hartford
Goshen 1:35 PM
Valparaiso
Bryant 2:00 PM
Denver
Austin Peay 2:00 PM
Lipscomb
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
South Dakota 2:00 PM
Montana
ULM 2:00 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 6 1st Half 16:14
Denver 8
St Marys-CA 6 1st Half 15:39
George Washington 4
TX-San Antonio 9 1st Half 14:09
Nicholls 4
Portland State 0 1st Half 19:01
Columbia 3
Tenn Tech 7 1st Half 12:15
Morgan State 15
SMU 5 1st Half 14:24
Auburn 9
Quinnipiac 8 1st Half 15:36
Hartford 5
Hofstra 2 1st Half 16:37
Boston College 2
Eastern Washington 9 1st Half 12:37
Georgia Southern 4
Rhode Island 12:00 PM
Bryant
Liberty 12:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Fairleigh Dickinson 12:00 PM
Brown
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Long Island
Bucknell 12:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Stony Brook 12:00 PM
Wagner
FIU 12:00 PM
Wofford
Duquesne 12:00 PM
Providence
Maine 12:00 PM
William & Mary
Alabama State 12:00 PM
Samford
TX-Pan American 12:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
South Dakota St 12:00 PM
Marist
Saint Josephs 12:00 PM
(5) Notre Dame
Radford 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(3) Texas 12:30 PM
(4) Texas A&M
South Florida 1:00 PM
Penn State
Sam Houston St 1:00 PM
TCU
Evansville 1:00 PM
IUPUI
(14) Maryland 1:00 PM
Coppin State
Mercer 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
NC A&T 1:00 PM
Chattanooga
Princeton 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Eastern Illinois 1:00 PM
Lehigh
Rider 1:00 PM
Binghamton
SC State 1:00 PM
Clemson
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Richmond 1:00 PM
Eastern Kentucky
Cleveland State 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Kent State 1:00 PM
Colgate
South Alabama 1:00 PM
UAB
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Navy
Youngstown St 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Davidson 1:00 PM
Charlotte
Indiana State 1:30 PM
St Johns
Southern U 1:30 PM
Florida
Wright State 1:30 PM
Purdue
(19) Oklahoma St 2:00 PM
USC
Houston 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
Ark-Little Rock 2:00 PM
Tulsa
Dayton 2:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Northern Ariz 2:00 PM
New Mexico
UNC-Asheville 2:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Dakota 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Western Ill 2:00 PM
Marquette
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ball State 2:00 PM
Western Ky
(8) Kentucky 2:00 PM
(13) Duke
New Orleans 2:00 PM
Alabama
Chicago State 2:00 PM
Milwaukee
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
Bradley
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Northern Ill 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
(23) Iowa 2:05 PM
Drake
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Colorado
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Idaho State 3:00 PM
Seattle
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
Oregon
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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