Strength of schedule is Minnesota Vikings’ friend in NFC North race

The Minnesota Vikings are reeling right now, but they maintain confidence and have the strength of schedule in their favor.

Forgive Mike Zimmer if he isn’t ready to fold the tents and move on from his original goal of his Minnesota Vikings winning the NFC North division.

He isn’t one to give in easily, injuries be damned. His answer? Work harder, work longer and overcome.

Zimmer was even able to able call the Vikings fortunate, a description most would throw to curb when looking at the injury situation. So why are the Vikings “fortunate?” Perhaps because others around the NFC not located in Dallas aren’t running away from the pack.

“We’ve been fortunate with some of the other things that have happened in the league that we’re still in a good place. We can go out and win,” Zimmer said. “I know everybody thinks I’m crazy, but my goal is to win the division. So, go out and get some wins and get going again. That’s all. The last two ballgames have been (close and), honestly, could go either way. We didn’t win them, so we just need to get a couple of these either-way games and win. That’s kind of what happened at the beginning of the season. So, it’s a seven-game season now.”

Despite losing their last four straight games, the total losses for the season stand at four, which means the Vikings are within two games of everyone but the Cowboys in the NFC. Even a better course of action would be taking back control of the NFC North, where the Vikings are currently tied for first with the Detroit Lions. Even with the Lions having a win in hand against Minnesota, the two teams play again on Thanksgiving, providing another chance for Zimmer’s Vikings to take control in the division.

In what is usually a week-to-week focus, Zimmer addressed the big picture with his players this week.

“Everybody believes that we can still do the grand scheme of things and do the things that we want to do. It’s just that we’re not going to go undefeated obviously,” veteran cornerback Terence Newman said. “We’re not going to win every game at home, but we still have a chance to possibly win the division, make it to the playoffs and see what happens. At the end of the day, I think guys have all gone through something throughout their lives growing up and whatnot that has not been in their favor. We’ve all had to fight. We’re all in this together so we’re going to fight together and correct it. That’s all we can do – coaches, players, we’re all in this together.”

What’s playing in the Vikings’ favor is that no team in the NFC North seems very good at this point and of the three contenders – the Vikings, Lions and Green Bay Packers – the Vikings have the easiest strength of schedule.

“I remind myself that we have good football players that will do good things,” Zimmer said. “When we get the opportunities, we’re going to win games. Don’t know when it is, but that’s our plan and that’s our mission.”

Green Bay  
at Washington 5-3-1
at Philadelphia 5-4
Houston 6-3
Seattle 6-2-1
at Chicago 2-7
Minnesota 5-4
at Detroit 5-4
Total 34-27-2 (.556)
Jacksonville 2-7
Minnesota 5-4
at New Orleans 4-5
Chicago 2-7
at N.Y. Giants 6-3
at Dallas 8-1
Green Bay 4-5
Total 31-32 (.492)
Arizona 4-4-1
at Detroit 5-4
Dallas 8-1
at Jacksonville 2-7
Indianapolis 4-5
at Green Bay 4-5
Chicago 2-7
Total 29-33-1 (.468)

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