First off, in case you haven't seen the Vikings' 2010 schedule, here it is:
We will now divide this schedule into three categories:
THINGS WE LIKE
*The start. A rematch with the Saints (on Thursday night, no less) will not only be great fun but a great test to see where the 2010 squad is right out of the gate. Then, win or lose, there are two very winnable home games after it.
*The finish. Looks like a good chance to go at least 4-1 down the stretch.
THINGS WE DON'T LIKE
*The middle. The eight-game stretch after the bye and before Buffalo is fairly challenging. Five road games ... six of eight against playoff teams from a year ago ... and yes, we know it's dangerous to base strength of schedule off of last year's finishes because the NFL changes so quickly, but the Jets, Cowboys, Packers, Patriots and Cardinals figure to at least be contenders this year.
*The early bye. Just on general principle, you'd typically much rather have the bye much later in the season.
THINGS THAT MAKE US CONVINCED BRETT FAVRE IS COMING BACK, and THE NFL WANTS HIM BACK
*The Saints game right off the bat. There's a nice enticement, don't you think?
*Primetime (MNF) game at the Jets. Another revenge game, under the bright lights. And that doesn't even count the two given games vs. Green Bay.
*Four of the final five games indoors, when the weather could turn nasty, including three in a row at home in December. When you consider the Vikings don't have a single game west of Minneapolis this year (thanks to Phil Miller for noticing that yesterday in the office), pictures of East Coast blizzards and whipping winds start rolling through a guy's head. The game at Philly will likely be chilly. At Washington could be less than ideal. Beyond that, Favre should stay pretty warm and dry. He will like that.
Add it all up, and what do we get: Well, since we're convinced now more than ever that Favre will be back, here's how we see it shaking out: 2-1 or 3-0 before the bye; 5-3 in the challenging middle; 4-1 or 5-0 down the back stretch. That's how we arrive back at 12-4, hopefully for the purple faithful with (at least) another first round bye and a legitimate shot at getting to a certain game.