Some years with the Vikings you look at the schedule and say, "Man, it's just tough to find more than five losses." This is not one of those years. In 2011 -- if they play the season -- it's really hard for us to find ANY losses. Hop on the bandwagon folks and come along for the ride to 16-0! Here is the game-by-game:
Week 1 at San Diego, 3:15 p.m., Sept. 11 (Fox): The Chargers are notoriously slow starters. It's a great time to be playing them. New Vikings QB X should have a strong game, while Cornerbacks A, B and C will show an uncanny ability to shut down Philip Rivers.
Week 2 vs. Tampa Bay, noon, Sept. 18 (Fox): The first regular-season game in the patched-up Dome will be a rousing success.
Week 3 vs. Detroit, noon, Sept. 25 (Fox): Detroit is improving, but these are still the Lions. Regression when it's least expected is their oxygen.
Week 4 at Kansas City, noon, Oct. 2 (Fox): Pretty much everything went right for the playoff Chiefs in 2010. This has the feel of a tumbly kind of year.
Week 5 vs. Arizona, noon, Oct. 9 (Fox): Hey look! A team with an even less settled QB situation!
Week 6 at Chicago, 7:20 p.m., Oct. 16 (NBC): Chicago's once-every-five-years horseshoe season was spent in 2010. Now it's back to injuries, bickering and inept QB play -- conveniently packaged in one man, Jay Cutler.
Week 7 vs. Green Bay, 3:15 p.m., Oct. 23 (Fox): Once again, MOA field at the soon-to-be-replaced but newly roofed Metrodome will be rocking. Who would have thought the Vikings would start 6-0? Except THIS GUY. Now it's the real test against the defending Super Bowl cha ... sorry, can't write it. Tried. Anyway, 2011 is a new year. And the Vikings will turn the tables that were turned on them last year. That means the tables will be upright once again. Pretty sure.
Week 8 at Carolina, noon, Oct. 30 (Fox): This game is on our birthday. We can't ever recall the Vikings losing on our birthday. Then again, we can't specifically remember them playing on our birthday. Regardless, this is at Carolina. They were 2-14 last season and have an entirely new coaching staff.
Week 9 Bye on Nov. 6: Could there be a more perfect time for a bye? Exactly midway through the season and enough time to rest up before ...
Week 10 at Green Bay, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 14 (ESPN): Monday Night showdown. The Packers will certainly be looking for revenge after Week 7. But the Vikings, with a rebuilt offensive line and scheme anchored by Tackle X and Guard Y, will carve huge holes for Adrian Peterson on the way to a thoroughly satisfying victory.
Week 11 vs. Oakland, noon, Nov. 20 (CBS): If you're going to have a short week of preparation, you couldn't ask for a much better follow-up game than at home vs. Oakland.
Week 12 at Atlanta, noon, Nov. 27 (Fox): The Falcons are awfully good at home, and they are built for the regular season. This will be among the stiffest tests down the stretch in terms of keeping the '72 Dolphins nervous, but we'll take a field goal at the gun for the win.
Week 13 vs. Denver, 3:05 p.m. Dec. 4 (CBS): Maybe the Broncos will have figured out their QB situation by this point, but it won't really matter.
Week 14 at Detroit, noon, Dec. 11 (Fox): Another sneaky game, but another victory.
Week 15 vs. New Orleans, noon, Dec. 18 (Fox): Drew Brees in the Metrodome will presumably give Gophers supporters some nightmares. But fear not! The undefeated march continues thanks to a flurry of turnovers.
Week 16 at Washington, noon, Dec. 24 (Fox): The only present you'll need to unwrap early is a Vikings road victory.
Week 17 vs. Chicago, noon, Jan. 1 (Fox): New Year. Same result.
/But seriously, if the Vikings make some upgrades they could win 10 games. This is rated the 10th-hardest schedule based on last year, but a lot of things break nicely.
Your thoughts, as always, in the comments.