The Vikings' opponents for 2010 appear to get much tougher, especially on the road, where they could end up playing three 2009 division winners.
The Vikings may not know who they play in the first round of the playoffs yet, but one thing they can do is pay special attention to all of the 2009 NFC playoff teams. Why? Because they're going to play all of them in 2010.
Thanks to the symmetrical scheduling of the NFL, teams know in advance who 14 of their 16 opponents for a given season are going to be. With the NFC South and NFC West champions having already been crowned, there is no more mystery as to who the Vikings will play next season. Unlike this year, where the Vikings got what had to be viewed as a favorable draw – getting the NFC West and AFC North as their non-division opponents – 2010 is going to be markedly more difficult.
Here is the list of opponents for 2010. Dates and times won't be finalized until April.
Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, New York Giants, Arizona, Buffalo, Miami.
Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, New Orleans, New England, New York Jets.
If the schedule tells us anything, it's that the Vikings will have to improve their road performances because there won't be many easy games on the 2010 road schedule. After having what was viewed as one of the best strengths of schedules this year, it would appear as though the pendulum is going to swing the other way in 2010.
The final injury report was released Friday. Jimmy Kennedy, who missed all three practices with a thumb injury, is listed as doubtful. Visanthe Shiancoe (thigh) and Pat Williams (elbow) were limited each of the last two days and are both on the injury report as questionable. Four other players – Antoine Winfield (foot), Steve Hutchinson (shoulder), Johns Sullivan (knee) and Eric Frampton (ankle) – were all listed as probable.
Winfield and Hutchisnon were limited in practice Friday – the third straight day they didn't fully participate. Sullivan and Frampton had a full practice schedule Friday.
Things are much worse for the Giants on their injury report. Earlier in the week, they placed starting running back Brandon Jacobs and cornerback Aaron Ross on injured reserve, but they are just two of five starters that have already been ruled out for Sunday's game. Also on the shelf will be cornerback Corey Webster (knee), defensive tackle Chris Canty (knee) and offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie (knee).
Aside from the players known to be out, four more are listed as questionable – running back Ahmad Bradshaw (ankles/foot), wide receiver Mario Manningham (shoulder), guard Rick Seubert (knee) and defensive end Justin Tuck (knee).
The Vikings remain undecided as to who will get the start at left cornerback between ailing Antoine Winfield and Benny Sapp. The decision likely won't be made until game time.