Expectations are not particularly high for the Minnesota Vikings as the 2012 season kicks off in earnest on Sunday, but’s possible some progress will be made with little to show for it in terms of improvement over last season’s 3-13 record. Playing in the NFC North will do that, and it is possible or even likely the Vikings will lose all six of their division games this year.
But’s it’s still fun to look at a coming season with rose colored glasses and try to predict wins, while also of course trying to be realistic about a team’s chances. Here is my look at the 2012 schedule for the Vikings, with my predictions for the result of each contest.
Week 1-vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The schedule makers did the Vikings a favor by scheduling the Jaguars in Week 1, who themselves had a poor season (5-11) in 2011. With or without running back Adrian Peterson, the Vikings should have little trouble winning this game and getting off to a good start this season
Final Score Prediction: Minnesota 20, Jacksonville 14
Week 2- @ Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are rebuilding with a new quarterback in Andrew Luck and head coach in Chuck Pagano, and it can be argued they are superior to the Vikings in both of those areas and perhaps many others as well. Many preseason predictions have penciled the Vikings in for a 2-0 start, but I’m not so sure…..
Final Score Prediction: Colts 27, Vikings 21
Week 3- vs. San Francisco 49ers
Week 3 brings a reality check for the Vikings, as the 49ers were close to making to the Super Bowl last season and are considered one of the favorites to come out of the NFC this year. Playing at home favors the Vikings, but the potential is here for a one-sided result.
Final Score Prediction: 49ers 24, Vikings 10
Week 4 @ Detroit Lions
Week 4 brings a divisional reality check, this one on the road even against the Lions. The Vikings and Lions generally play close games no matter the talent gap between the two rosters, which had gone Minnesota’s way for a while not that long ago, but if the Detroit offense exercises their superiority things could get ugly quickly.
Final Score Prediction: Lions 38, Vikings 17
Week 5- vs. Tennessee Titans
Week 5 starts a streak of potentially winnable games for Minnesota that could turn the tide of their season one way or the other. The Titans have some dangerous weapons on offense, notably running back Chris Johnson and wide receiver Kenny Britt (if he hasn’t been arrested again by this point), and with their shortcomings defensively the Vikings’ offense should move the ball easily themselves.
Final Score Prediction: Titans 31, Vikings 27
Week 6- @ Washington Redskins
The Vikings beat the Redskins late last season despite losing Peterson to his knee injury in the game, so they should at least go to Washington with good vibes. Whether that translates to the field is obviously unknown, but this should not be a difficult game to win no matter how Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III has performed to this point in his rookie season.
Final Score Prediction: Vikings 23, Redskins 17
Week 7- vs. Arizona Cardinals
It seems the Vikings take on the Cardinals every year despite being in separate divisions, but they were able to get one of their three wins last year against Arizona at home. Could Minnesota have a two-game winning streak?
Final Score Prediction: Vikings 20, Cardinals 14
Week 8- vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Minnesota will make their one Thursday night appearance in this game, so national viewers will be able to see if two teams that really struggled last season have made progress at the season’s virtual midpoint.
Final Score Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Vikings 17
Week 9- @ Seattle Seahawks
Seattle is always a tough place to play, and the Vikings have tended not to play very well there in the recent past. The Seahawks are a popular sleeper pick right now in terms of possibly making a push toward a playoff spot or even a division title, and by now we should know if they are for real.
Final Score Prediction: Seahawks 21, Vikings 13
Week 10- vs. Detroit
A rematch with the Lions, this time at home. There is a possibility Detroit’s season is going off the rails by this point and the Vikings will have a chance to steal a division game, but I expect a similar result to Week 4.
Final Score Prediction: Lions 28, Vikings 13
Week 11- Bye
Week 12- @ Chicago Bears
The Bears one of the teams widely predicted to make some noise in the NFC this year, and the Vikings’ 2011 campaign started to really go down in Chicago, with Christian Ponder replacing the ineffective Donovan McNabb late in the game. I don’t expect a similar blowout this time around, but it will certainly be a challenge for Minnesota to win this contest.
Final Score Prediction: Bears 27, Vikings 17
Week 13- @ Green Bay Packers
Week 13 is pretty late for the first matchup with the hated Packers, but the Vikings may be ok with that all things considered as they try to get their franchise back on the right track. Rivalry games can be unpredictable at times, even at the pro level, but the cream rises to the top and Green Bay should have little trouble here.
Final Score Prediction: Packers 31, Vikings 20
Week 14- vs. Chicago
Playing the Bears twice in three weeks shouldn’t give either team a distinct advantage, but playing at home may allow the Vikings to pull an upset. But can they, with the likelihood they will have little to play for at this point in the season?
Final Score Prediction: Bears 24, Vikings 20
Week 15- @ St. Louis Rams
This looks like the one winnable game in a late season gauntlet for the Vikings, as the Rams are arguably in worse shape talent-wise than they are. That may change by the time this game comes, but I’ll go with Minnesota getting the win.
Final Score Prediction: Vikings 21, Rams 14
Week 16- @ Houston Texans
The Texans are among the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and are clearly superior to the Vikings in all areas. Injuries can always level the playing field, and some notable players for Houston have some level of significant injury history, but they would have to be playing a lot of backups to not handle the Vikings fairly easily.
Final Score Prediction: Texans 27, Vikings 10
Week 17- vs. Green Bay
If Green Bay has nothing to gain in this game in terms of playoff positioning (assuming they are in playoff contention), they may rest a lot of their regulars so as not to risk any significant injuries to those players. That may give the Minnesota Vikings an opportunity to end the 2012 season on a high note, particularly with a win over their biggest rival, but that seems overly hopeful.
Final Score Prediction: Packers 21, Vikings 17
Final Record: 4-12