VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData, Arif Hasan of Vikings Territory, Aj Mansour, who hosts Minnesota Vikings Overtime on KFAN, and Joe Oberle a long-time Minnesota based writer. The VikesCentric crew crunches numbers, watches video and isn't shy about saying what's on their minds.

VikesCentric: Analyzing the Vikings 2013 schedule

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: April 18, 2013 - 9:09 PM

While folks are still trying to project who the Vikings will take in next week's NFL Draft or guess what their new uniforms will look like and whether the new stadium will have a retractable roof, there's no more guesswork involved with at least one part of the team's future.

 
The 2013 NFL schedule was released Thursday night so we now know the "who, where and when" of the Vikings season. This also means it's time for VikesCentric and everyone else to analyze the schedule.
 
Before doing so let me first say that taking schedule analysis too seriously is kind of silly. Hyper-analysis is just dumb. The best we can do is look at the games and interpret things based on how good the opponents were last year and what improvements they have made. There is absolutely no magical formula for conducting a fool-proof schedule analysis. Myriad factors affect how teams perform from year to year, making accurate forecasts impossible. Coaching changes, free agency, trades, the draft, scheme changes, injuries and plain ol' luck all play a part.
 
Having said that, it's always kind of fun to kick around some observations… so let's have a look at the 2013 schedule.
 
 
Vikings 2013 schedule  
Week Date Opponent Time (CT)
1 Sun. 9/8 at Detroit Lions 12 p.m.
2 Sun. 9/15 at Chicago Bears 12 p.m.
3 Sun. 9/22 Cleveland Browns 12 p.m.
4 Sun. 9/29 Pittsburgh Steelers (in London) 12 p.m.
5 BYE    
6 Sun. 10/13 Carolina Panthers 12 p.m.
7 Mon. 10/21 at New York Giants 7:30 p.m.
8 Sun. 10/27 Green Bay Packers 7:30 p.m.
9 Sun. 11/3 at Dallas Cowboys 12 p.m.
10 Thu. 11/7 Washington Redskins 7:25 p.m.
11 Sun. 11/17 at Seattle Seahawks 3:25 p.m.
12 Sun. 11/24 at Green Bay Packers 12 p.m.
13 Sun. 12/1 Chicago Bears 12 p.m.
14 Sun. 12/8 at Baltimore Ravens 12 p.m.
15 Sun. 12/15 Philadelphia Eagles 12 p.m.
16 Sun. 12/22 at Cincinnati Bengals 12 p.m.
17 Sun. 12/29 Detroit Lions 12 p.m.
 
My initial reaction upon eyeballing the schedule for the first time: it's tough – especially the stretch from Week 7 to Week 14.
 
The so-called "Strength of Schedule" data supports the hunch that the Vikings have a rough road.
 
The Strength of Schedule is based entirely on won-loss records from the previous season. The Vikings' 2013 opponents had a combined .516 winning percentage in 2012, which ties them with the Seattle Seahawks for the 10th hardest schedule in the NFL this upcoming season. The Vikings road schedule ranks as the fourth-toughest in the league, based on ESPN Stats and Information. And their home schedule is the 22nd-toughest. However, remember that one of their "home" games will actually be played across the pond in foggy London town against the Steelers. In my book that's going to be a pseudo road game against a franchise that has a fan base that travels well.
 
This year's schedule, surprisingly enough, isn't too much tougher than last year's schedule when using the "Strength of Schedule" won-loss metric. Last year at this time the Vikings were looking at the eighth-hardest NFL schedule against opponents that had a .512 winning percentage in 2011.
 
Opening 2013 with two games on the road is rough. Having both games against division rivals makes them tougher. I think we all know by now how well the Vikings usually fare in Chicago (Week 2). Their home opener against the Browns looks like good on paper, but a road trip to London followed by a Week 5 bye means their second game of the season at Mall of America Field will have to wait until October 13 against the Panthers.
 
The Week 5 bye will be the earliest Vikings bye week since 2010 when they had a Week 4 bye. They have not had a Week 5 bye since 2005. I'm not a fan of bye weeks that early. Byes in Week 7, 8, or 9 break the season up better. But surprisingly none of the schedule makers asked for my input.
 
Following the Vikings' Week 6 contest against the Panthers, as I mentioned earlier, things get really ugly.
 
Look at that stretch from Weeks 7 to 14, starting with road game against the Super Bowl champs from two years ago and ending with a showdown with the reigning Super Bowl champs in Baltimore. I'm not sure the Vikings will be favored in many of the games in this stretch. But again, things can change. What looks like a murderer's row of games now might look more like a lineup of cupcakes six months from now.
 
Regardless, that Week 11-12 pair at Seattle and at Green Bay will be awfully interesting. On the road to face a Super Bowl favorite in Seattle (and former Vikings Percy Harvin and Antoine Winfield) followed by the annual trip to Lambeau, where I'm sure Greg Jennings will be welcomed back with open arms. Those two games in particular are being circled on calendars by numerous players as you read this.
 
The Vikings close out the season with home games in two of their last three, and actually all three games are allegedly pretty winnable. I'm guessing that Week 17 game against the Lions will be a raucous affair whether the Vikings are in playoff contention or not, as it will be the final regular season game in the Metrodome. Note I said "regular season." They're not planning to tear the dome down until February in order to accommodate some home playoff games in January. Wishful thinking?
 
Look at it this way: they don't face a team that made the playoffs last year until Week 8. Of course, then they have five games in seven weeks against playoff teams from last year, including the defending champs. Altogether, the Vikes have six games against 2012 playoff teams on this year's schedule.
 
So what do you think, Vikings fans? Tough schedule? Easier than some might think? What are your initial impressions? Have at it in the comments section below.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

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New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 49 3rd Qtr 11:10
LA Clippers 50
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
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North Carolina 93
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Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
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Presbyterian 54
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Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
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SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
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Florida A&M 65
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Lamar 65
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SE Louisiana 61
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Valparaiso 73
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(20) Iowa 78
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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 NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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