The Vikings should see their schedule as challenging but manageable. They probably won't win 13 games again, but they should win the division.

But that's not how I'm looking at the schedule, selfishly, and on behalf of all those Vikings fans who spend so much time and money traveling to road games.

Here's what I see:

-Green Bay early in the season. That's a big win for fans. Wisconsin can be beautiful in the fall and brutal, as well as boring, during the winter. Fewer lives will be at risk on the drive across Wisconsin for those who want to attend the game. This should be the case every year - Vikings-Green Bay at Lambeau early, at U.S. Bank late.

--No Thanksgiving Day game. Like many fans, I love watching them on TV, hate going to them on the road. Another win.

-Seattle in December. The Seahawks may be fully cognizant that their window is closed by this point in the season, and what would have looked like a difficult matchup may be substantially easier by then.

-At Philadelphia on Oct. 7, not in early September. The NFL made a wise decision here. If they had the Vikings opening the season on Thursday night football in Philadelphia, the story for the next four months would be the misbehavior of Eagles fans before the NFC title game. Now that story will last for only a few days.

-A warm December: The Vikings' last cold-weather outdoor game will be Dec. 2 at New England. They'll finish at Seattle, home against Miami, at Detroit and home against Chicago. That could be an easy stretch that allows the Vikings to make the playoffs, as well as a stretch that doesn't require hand-warmers.

For both the team and its fans, this is a pretty attractive schedule.


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