After taking a first look at the Minnesota Vikings' 2011 NFL schedule, here are my initial impressions.
-First off, the Minnesota Twins are scheduled to have one home game on a Sunday in the entire month of September. . .and wouldn't you know it, it just so happens to be on the same day as the Vikings' home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As it stands now, the Twins are scheduled to host the Cleveland Indians at 1:10 PM Central time. . .an hour and ten minutes after the Vikings are supposed to kick off against the Buccaneers.
-For all the talk about the Vikings being an indoor team and things of that nature, it might actually play to their advantage. If the Metrodome roof holds up. . .taking a second to knock on the nearest wooden surface. . .the Vikings only have one game on their entire schedule where weather could be a factor, and that's their Christmas Even trip to the nation's capital to take on the Washington Redskins. The Vikings' trips to Chicago and Green Bay are early enough in the season where weather shouldn't be an issue.
-This year, for a change, the Vikings' bye week is perfectly placed in Week Nine, the half-way point of the 2011 season. If you'll recall, the Vikings had their bye in Week Four last year, and that. . .well, I'll just say that I can't stand having the bye week that early.
-As of now, Minnesota has two prime-time games. . .both on the road against divisional opponents (at Chicago for Sunday Night Football in Week 6, and at Green Bay coming off of the bye week for ESPN's Monday Night Football). I, for one, think that flex scheduling (which starts in Week 11) will get the Vikings at least one more prime-time game this year. Then again, I've been accused of being overly optimistic about my football team, too.
-Season opener in sunny San Diego? I'm going. Anyone else?
-For the first time in roughly forever, there is not a game on the schedule against the New York Giants this season.
-The Vikings actually get their bye before a game against the Packers. Clearly the NFL made a mistake there. . .it's usually the other way around. They might try to rectify that "mistake." (Okay, not really. . .I'm just in shock.)
-There are no extended homestands or road trips. . .in fact, the Vikings won't play road games in consecutive weeks all season. The only spot on their schedule that has two consecutive road games is split in half by the bye week.
All in all. . .doesn't look as murderous as originally thought. Depending on how quickly the new-look Vikings' offense gets on track, things could be better for the Vikings this season than many people expect.