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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Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 6:00 PM
Cleveland
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Washington
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
New York
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Brooklyn
Charlotte 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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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 Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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