As expected, the scheduling problems with the Metrodome will cause the Vikings to potentially be road warriors early in the season. The 2009 schedule was released Tuesday and, thanks to the Metrodome being in use three of the first four Sundays of the regular season, other arrangements needed to be made.
The Vikings will play their first two games on the road, traveling to Cleveland and Detroit. The next two games are home, but because of a Metrodome conflict, the Vikings will play their Week 4 game against the Packers on Monday night.
After that, it's on the road again, playing three of their next four games prior to the bye week on the road. The road will be more difficult on the October run with games in St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Green Bay.
"It's an exciting day when the staff and players can see the whole schedule laid out in front of them for the season," head coach Brad Childress said in a statement.
The bye week couldn't come at a better time for the Vikings, since they caught a bye week exactly at the midway point of the season – a time sought by most teams since it will give them a chance to heal at midseason and come back strong for a second half run.
That second-half run will feature an NFL rarity – three straight home games. From the time the Vikings play the Packers Nov. 1, until they go back on the road to play Arizona Dec. 6 (a good time to visit Arizona, Childress said), the team will have more than a month without a road game. Aside from the bye week, the Vikings will play three straight home games against Detroit, Seattle and Chicago.
The toughest stretch of the schedule will clearly be in December. Through their first 11 games, the Vikings will play two teams that made the playoffs in 2008 (Baltimore and Pittsburgh). That changes in December, as the Vikings will close the schedule playing the other three NFC division champions – Arizona in Week 13, Carolina in Week 15 and the Giants in Week 17.
"Just like we did last year," Childress said of closing with the Giants during an NFL Network segment. "That's about four years from now."
The schedule could have been much worse, considering the lack of availability in the Metrodome in September and early October. But, at first glance, there shouldn't be too much complaining.