Vikings

Minnesota's Schedule Is Littered With Teams That Got WR Facelifts

Photo Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

With the official schedule release creeping closer, the NFL already gave the Minnesota Vikings a sneak peek behind the curtain. They know they’ll play at the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football in Week 2 and the New Orleans Saints in London two weeks later.

It’s also evident that the Vikings have plenty of opponents on the docket who orchestrated franchise-altering moves in the offseason. Many of them added impact wideouts, and a handful will have someone new under center.

The Indianapolis Colts are among the nine home games on the slate for Minnesota in 2022. Indianapolis moved on quickly after one year of the Carson Wentz experiment. Now Matt Ryan will be under center.

Ryan spent his first 14 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. While he’s on the back end of his career, this move sent waves through the AFC South. The Falcons will have a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2007.

The Washington Commanders are on the other end of the Colts’ decision to kick Wentz to the curb. Wentz was traded from the Colts to the Commanders and will be the starter for a team in D.C. that has tons of talent at wide receiver.

It just so happens the Vikings will make a trip to take on Wentz and the Commanders this year.

Quarterbacks are not the overriding narrative on Minnesota’s schedule that stands out. It’s the wide receivers.

The Miami Dolphins showdown will be a fascinating matchup, regardless of what week it’s played in. Miami has a new head coach in Mike McDaniel, who comes from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. But that wasn’t the biggest acquisition they made during the offseason. The Dolphins traded for Tyreek Hill and will pair him with Jaylen Waddle, giving them what very well might be the fastest wide receiver duo in the entire NFL.

Acquiring Hill showed that the Dolphins aren’t sitting back and watching the Buffalo Bills take over the division. Instead, they’re giving Tua Tagovailoa all sorts of weapons.

Miami is far from the only Vikings opponent that overhauled their receiver room. Everyone knows that the Green Bay Packers traded Davante Adams, but Marquez Valdes-Scantling also left in free agency. There’s familiarity with Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard returning. However, there are also plenty of new faces at wide receiver in Green Bay. They added veteran Sammy Watkins and drafted three pass-catchers, including Christian Watson.

Speaking of receiving threats, when exactly the Vikings end up playing the Arizona Cardinals could be pivotal. DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for the first six games of the season, so for those who have to play Arizona in 2022, why not get it out of the way early and skip a visit with Hopkins?

The problem is, the Cardinals were proactive on draft night and traded for Marquise Brown, prying him away from the Baltimore Ravens. Hopkins and Brown make up one of the most terrifying duos in the NFL. For the Vikings in particular, it could all come down to what week they take on Arizona.

To really send this point home with wide receiver makeovers on the Vikings’ schedule, don’t forget about the Detroit Lions. The afterthought of the NFC North is dialing up its aggressiveness in trying to win as soon as possible.

Detroit found a gem in Amon-Ra St. Brown last, and the rookie figures to be a big part of the passing game for the years to come. They also added D.J. Chark in free agency and drafted Jameson Williams, who may turn out to be the best wide receiver in this draft class. Oh yeah, and the Lions traded with the Vikings to move up to pick No. 12 and get him.

Yes, the Lions will still be glossed over by the masses as the regular season approaches. But there are a lot of quarterbacks who would sign up for that situation, which will presumably be Jared Goff‘s again.

Speaking of rookies, Minnesota plays the New York Jets, who took wideout Garrett Wilson with the No. 10-overall pick. Who went after him at No. 11? That would be Chris Olave, another wide receiver and Wilson’s teammate at Ohio State. Olave landed with the Saints, who the Vikings also play.

Former Peen State Nittany Lions wideout Jahan Dotson landed with the Commanders, who selected him at No. 16. That’s four first-round wideouts in this draft class that the Vikings will play. Add that to the Dolphins getting Hill, the Cardinals getting Hollywood Brown, and the Eagles trading for ex-Tennessee Titans star A.J. Brown, and it’s full-blown chaos.

Perhaps this can best be summed up by noting that, in the first round of the 2022 draft, 10 moves in total involved either drafting rookie wideouts or trades for star wide receivers. This year, the Vikings will play seven of those wide receivers in Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, and Marquise Brown, all of whom were traded for first-round picks. They’ll play four more who were drafted in the first round — Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, and Jahan Dotson.

Teams go through roster tinkering every offseason. It’s the nature of the beast. However, an oddly high number of teams went through significant changes at wide receiver, with a few alterations at quarterback that pop up on the Vikings’ calendar this upcoming season.

It’s a good thing the Vikings bulked up the secondary via the draft with Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr. Bringing back Patrick Peterson isn’t too shabby, either.

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