Vikings

Strength of Schedule Doesn't Matter in May

Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson (USA TODAY Sports)

Here’s the thing, I get it. I know what’s going through your head. The Minnesota Vikings’ schedule just dropped; it’s the fifth-strongest in the league. Joe Burrow goes off in Week 1, and they lose. Kyler Murray finds DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone three times in a crushing Week 2 loss.

The Seattle Seahawks in Week 3? Well, the Vikings haven’t beat them since 2009. Shank at the Bank, fourth and inches — you get it.

So here we are, entering Week 4 at 0-3. Playoff hopes dashed. Kevin Stefanski and the Cleveland Browns toss in the dagger. The Detroit Lions game is a trap in Week 5 because Sam Darnold looks like a franchise quarterback now that he’s escaped from New York. The Vikes are 0-6 entering the bye.

There are seasons when you look at the schedule and can’t find a loss. This year, it’s impossible to find a win.

If the Andy Dalton-led Dallas Cowboys can beat the Vikings last year, the Dak Prescott version should too. Lamar Jackson and Rashod Bateman tear apart the secondary in Week 9. Justin Herbert does the same the following week. Justin Fields looks like he should have gone No. 2 overall in both matchups against the Chicago Bears. Aaron Rodgers was all talk in the offseason and is in MVP form once his cleats touch the turf in Lambeau. Sean McVay takes Matthew Stafford to the next level. Ben Roethlisberger has a revival. Trey Lance becomes the next Michael Vick.

Quick PSA before you start huffing out of a brown bag or drinking out of one: settle down. It’s May.

The Cincinnati Bengals hilariously passed on a generational offensive lineman in the draft, and Burrow is coming off a serious injury. The “Hail Murray” was mainly a great play by Hopkins, and the Cardinals finished 8-8 last year. Seattle’s O-line sucks. The Browns are the Browns. The Lions are the Lions. Darnold might just not be good.

The truth is that we don’t know anything right now. Rodgers might be the Denver Broncos’ starter next year. Ten teams might be justified in passing on Fields, Lance played 17 FCS games in his college career, and Big Ben is 39 and hefty. Herbert could have a sophomore slump. A key player on any of these teams could get hurt in the preseason, or Jerry Jones could demand that Ben DiNucci starts Week 8.

My goal here isn’t to completely dismiss concerns about the schedule. It looks tough.

I’m also not pretending that the Vikings don’t have horrible luck, or that last year wasn’t a colossal bummer. I’m just trying to head off any irrational fears four-ish months before the season starts.

Relax. It should be a fun year. The Vikings drafted two O-linemen! They took a quarterback in the third round! Justin Jefferson will be starting Week 1!

It’s too early to get anxious about the schedule. That’s what August is for.

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