Vikings lead NFC North’s strength of schedule

The Vikings are just outside of the top 10 overall in strength of schedule but lead the NFC North.

The Minnesota Vikings didn’t make the top 10 in strength of schedule for 2015, but they are first among a cluster of NFC North teams that all made the top half for the NFL’s strength of schedule rankings.

The Vikings finished 12th in the NFL’s strength of schedule with their 2015 opponents’ winning percentage in 2014 at .539, but they were just ahead of the Chicago Bears at .531 (13th), Green Bay Packers at .529 (14th) and Detroit Lions at .527 (15th).

The Vikings’ home strength of schedule at TCF Bank Stadium, where they had five of their seven wins in 2014, is .547, while their road strength of schedule is .531. This will be the Vikings’ final season at TCF Bank Stadium, as their new U.S. Bank Stadium is scheduled for completion in July 2016 and is more than 60 percent complete in construction.

The AFC North has the top two hardest schedules, with the Pittsburgh Steelers claiming the toughest schedule at .578, followed by the Cincinnati Bengals at .563. The San Francisco 49ers, the Vikings’ season-opening opponent, have the toughest home schedule with opponents there having a .582 winning percentage (the 49ers are third overall). The Seattle Seahawks, who have the fourth-hardest schedule, have the roughest road schedule, with those opponents having a .598 winning percentage in 2014. The Seahawks travel to play the Vikings in Minnesota on Dec. 6.

The Vikings’ schedule looks easiest at the outset, playing a drastically remade 49ers team, then opening their NFC North slate with the Detroit Lions at home, followed by the first of four AFC West opponents with the San Diego Chargers at home.

The Vikings’ final seven games likely will determine their fate, with two games against the Packers, hosting the Seahawks and then traveling to the Arizona Cardinals among the final seven contests.

Of course, strength of schedule can be deceiving. As Packer Report points out, since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, at least four teams that failed to make the playoffs one season reached the postseason the next. In each of the past two seasons, five teams stepped into the playoffs (or fell out of them, depending on your perspective).

The Vikings are a trendy pick to be one of those teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year that could make the postseason this year.

TEAM OverallHome Road
1. Pittsburgh .578.566 .590
2. Cincinnati .563.570 .555
3. San Francisco .561.582 .539
4. Seattle .559.520 .598
5. Arizona .557.566 .547
6. St. Louis .553.523 .582
7. Kansas City .545.523 .566
8. Oakland .545.574 .516
9. Cleveland .543.527 .559
10. Denver .541.566 .516
11. Baltimore .539.527 .551
12. Minnesota .539.547 .531
13. Chicago .531.531 .531
14. Green Bay .529.555 .504
15. Detroit .527.531 .523
16. San Diego .518.516 .520
17. Miami .492.570 .414
18. N.Y. Jets .488.430 .547
19. Buffalo .486.566 .406
20. N.Y. Giants .479.496 .461
21. Washington .479.469 .488
22. New England .477.398 .555
23. Philadelphia .475.461 .488
24. Dallas .467.480 .453
25. Jacksonville .463.480 .445
26. Tennessee .436.441 .430
27. Carolina .434.477 .391
28.New Orleans .430.387 .473
29. Tampa Bay .426.379 .473
30. Houston .418.391 .445
31. Indianapolis .416.398 .434
32. Atlanta .410.449 .371



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