The Minnesota Vikings regressed in 2016 after losing starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a serious knee injury. Can Sam Bradford get the Vikes back to the playoffs in 2017? Let’s examine their schedule.
It doesn’t sound like the Minnesota Vikings are counting on former franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater playing in 2017 after he missed all of 2016 with a potentially career-ending knee injury suffered last summer. With the Vikings not picking up the fifth-year option on Bridgewater’s 2014 first-round contract, he’s due to become a free agent in 2018. If the team was confident in his health, picking up that option is a no-brainer. Sam Bradford played well in Bridgewater’s place in 2016, leading the NFL with a 71.6 completion percentage.
However, the Vikings couldn’t run the ball a lick last year with Adrian Peterson going down injured early, a big reason for the 8-8 record, and the franchise starts a season without Peterson on the roster for the first time since 2007. He was released this offseason and has signed with the New Orleans Saints. The Vikings signed Raiders free-agent Latavius Murray to replace him.
Except then former Florida State star running back Dalvin Cook fell into the Vikings’ lap at the No. 41 overall pick in the 2017 draft. He’s a legitimate Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. Cook broke 92 tackles in college last season, 16 more than any other back in the FBS, and gained almost 1,800 yards behind some shaky blocking. The Vikings have had two players bring home the Offensive Player of the Year Award in recent years: Peterson in 2007 and receiver Percy Harvin in 2009. I love the Cook pick.
Defensively, this will again be one of the better units in the NFL. If the offense can do its part, a return to the playoffs is very possible. Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium hosts Super Bowl LII next February. Minnesota is a +220 second-favorite to win the NFC North behind Green Bay (-125), which I believe will win the division again on my NFL picks.
Vikings 2017 Win Total At SBR’s Top Sportsbooks: 8.5
Capper’s Projected Record: 8-8
Vikings Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 11, New Orleans, 7:10 p.m.
This game because suddenly one of the most interesting of Week 1 with Peterson signing with the Saints. It’s only New Orleans’ second trip to Minnesota since the 2010 NFC Championship Game. Vikings opened at -3.5 for this one on NFL odds. WIN
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
At least the Vikings get to visit Pittsburgh early in the season when it won’t be freezing cold. LOSS
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
This could have wild-card ramifications down the road because the Buccaneers are on the rise. Starts a potential season-defining stretch with four of five at home for Minnesota. LOSS
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, Detroit, 1 p.m.
The Vikings absolutely gave their home Week 9 game away to the Lions last year, falling 22-16 in OT. WIN
Week 5: Monday, Oct. 9, at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
It’s the second straight season the Vikings visit Chicago on a Monday in October. Vikes played terribly there in 2016 in a 20-10 loss. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned after the loss. LOSS
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Third straight division game for the Vikings. Minnesota opened U.S. Bank Stadium with a 17-14 Week 2 win over the Packers last year. WIN
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Baltimore holds the overall series lead, 3-2, and claimed the most recent meeting between the clubs in 2013. WIN
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29, at Cleveland, 9:30 a.m.
This game is at Twickenham Stadium in London so it’s nice that the Vikings only have seven true road games. Minnesota has never lost in five international games in team history. WIN
Week 9: BYE
Best possible bye position right at midseason and in midst of road-heavy slate.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, at Washington, 1 p.m.
The is the seventh meeting between the teams in eight years, with the Vikings holding a 4-2 edge (2-2 in road games) since 2010. Washington won last year 26-20 at home. LOSS
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, Los Angeles Rams, 1 p.m.
Mike Zimmer’s first win as Minnesota’s head coach in the 2014 season opener was against the then-St. Louis Rams. WIN
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 23, at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.
Turkey Day in Motown for the second straight year! Vikings lost 16-13 in 2016 on a Detroit field goal as time expired. Bradford had a terrible late interception. LOSS
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Minnesota’s first trip to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Vikings have won five of their last seven road games against the Falcons. LOSS
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, at Carolina, 1 p.m.
This would appear to be Minnesota’s first shot at a wintry-weather outdoor game, although Charlotte usually doesn’t get too bad. Minnesota won there 22-10 in Week 3 last year. LOSS
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
This is Zimmer’s first regular-season meeting with the Bengals since he was hired away from his position as Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator. WIN
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 23, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m.
Here I feel comfortable saying there will be wintry-weather conditions. The Vikes also visited Lambeau in Week 16 last year and lost 38-25. LOSS
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, Chicago, 1 p.m.
Second year in a row closing at home vs. Bears, with the Vikings rolling 38-10 in 2016. Minnesota has won past five at home in series. WIN
Check Out An In-Depth Analysis Of Vikings 2017 Schedule