Schedule Helper

The Vikings may have Christmas coming early this year, as two of their first three opponents in the 2007 regular season face the distinct possibility of being without their top offensive stars.

Sometimes making no news can be good news.

In what has proved to be a very quiet offseason, the Vikings have made very little in the way of noise – both good and bad. While the team didn't make a lot of front pages by signing top free agents, the team hasn't had any major off-field problems – save a minor tiff with Antoine Winfield that appears to be resolved.

The same, however, isn't true for a lot of other teams and, the way things are shaping up schedule-wise, it could be a huge boon for the Vikings if the problems stay on the front burner and become an issue for the Vikings' early-season opponents.

Of the Vikings' first three opponents, two of them could be facing huge problems when they meet the Vikings. The Vikes open against the Falcons, where Michael Vick has spent much of the offseason sullying his own name and giving the Falcons organization a black eye with his involvement in a dog-fighting ring. Vick, who made headlines when he became the highest paid player in NFL history, no longer even has a photo on the new-look Falcons website. With the hammer Roger Goodell has brought down since taking over as commissioner, there are many who expect that Vick will be subject to some form of suspension – even if only for a game or two. From the Vikings' perspective, it doesn't matter how long the sit-down would be, as long as it takes effect at the start of the season.

Perhaps just as interesting is a controversy brewing in Kansas City, where there is a different kind of unrest. Running back Larry Johnson, who set a NFL record for most rushing attempts in a season last year, is in the final year of his rookie contract and is threatening a holdout. At age 28, the Chiefs don't have much reason from a franchise-first perspective to back up the Brink's truck with cash, since he's approaching the age where his enormous number of carries can take a lasting toll.

Johnson has threatened a holdout – and for good reason. The Chiefs could delay trying to get a contract extension done and, even if they did let him become a free agent after this season, they always have the franchise and transition tags to slap on him to either greatly reduce or eliminate his chances of hitting the open market. L.J. is understandably upset and has said he is willing to sit out the first 10 games if nothing gets done. If neither side blinks, Johnson might not be on the field for Week 3 – which would be another huge advantage for the Vikings against a team with playoff aspirations.

With a little bad luck for two franchises, the Vikings could find themselves facing two teams early on that are crippled and ripe for picking. All that leaves is Jon Kitna and the 12-4 Lions. Who would have thought they could be the toughest pre-bye week game on the slate?

Meanwhile, all remains quiet on the Vikings front as other teams see their worlds collapsing.

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