Wednesday's revelation that the NFL is trying make Week 16 and Week 17 games mostly divisional matchups means that the Vikings might end up playing more outdoor games in December.
The traditional thinking is that dome teams don't fare as well when playing outdoors in cold weather. After looking at the Vikings' history against some of their outdoor road opponents for this year, there is good reason for that thinking.
While the Vikings could just as easily host those divisional games in the final two weeks of the regular season, we wanted to see how much success they have had against their road opponents this season when facing them on the road in Decembers of years past.
In the comforts of Mall of America Field at the Metrodome this year, the Vikings will face their divisional opponents, plus the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals.
Nearly all of their road games have the potential to be cold-weather affairs if they play them in December.
They are expected to face the New Orleans Saints (a dome team) in the opening weekend of the regular season, setting up more potential cold-weather outdoor games late in the year. Besides the Lions (another dome team), the remaining six road games for 2010 all have the potential of being played in the cold.
Even if the Vikings don't face Chicago (Soldier Field) or Green Bay (Lambeau) on the road in those those final two weeks, they could end up in some cold weather. Their other road opponents are the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots and New York Jets – all northern-climate teams with an open-air stadium.
So how have past Vikings teams fared against those teams on the road in December? We take a look.
Green Bay: Overall, the Vikings are 48-49-1 against the Packers, with a 23-26-1 record on the road. Take away the Vikings' 6-9 record in games played in Milwaukee and they have a .500 record at Lambeau Field.
But what happens when the Vikings play the Packers in Wisconsin in December? The results aren't impressive. Before the Vikings started playing games in the Metrodome in 1982, they were 1-1 at Lambeau Field in December. Since then, however, they have been losers at Lambeau in December, posting a 1-5 record there in the final month of the regular season – and that one win was in 1986. They have a five-game December losing streak at Lambeau and are 1-1 against the Packers in Milwaukee in December. Overall, the Vikings are 3-7 facing the Packers on the road in December.
Chicago: The Vikings had something a tradition traveling to Chicago for their regular-season finale in their early years. The upstart Vikings finished their season in Chicago four of Minnesota's first six seasons in the NFL. Before the Vikings moved into the Metrodome, they played December games in Chicago eight times, posting a 3-3-2 record.
But it took a long time for that chilly December tradition to heat up once the Vikings became a dome team. They didn't travel to Chicago in the final month of the regular season from 1982-2002, but since 2003 they have face the Bears at Soldier Field four times in December – all of them losses, including a 36-30 overtime loss there on Monday Night Football on Dec. 28 last year.
Philadelphia: As expected, the Vikings haven't face their non-divisional foes too much on the road in December. They have played at Philadelphia only four times in December, posting a 2-0 record before the Vikings became a dome team and a 1-1 record at Philadelphia in December since that 1982 transition under the Teflon.
Washington: The Vikings' other NFC East road opponent in 2010 is the Washington Redskins, and they have faced them even less frequently than the Eagles on the road in December. The Vikings are 1-1 overall at Washington in the final month of the regular season, with both of those games coming after the Metrodome became home for the Vikings.
New England: Moving over to the AFC portion of the Vikings' road schedule for 2010, they have traveled to New England only once in December, a loss in 1979, while Metropolitan Stadium was still the Vikings' chilly home.
New York Jets: Minnesota has never played at the Jets in a December regular-season game.
So what are the overall numbers when it comes to the Vikings' history against their 2010 road teams when facing them on the road in December? In 29 December regular-season games against their six outdoor road opponents this season, the Vikings are 10-17-2. Before they moved into the Metrodome, the Vikings were 6-5-2 in those games, leaving them with a 4-12 December road record against those six teams since 1982.
While we won't know when they face those road opponents until the full schedule is released in mid-April, there might be a good reason that dome teams have earned a "soft" reputation playing in cold weather.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Analyzing a potentially cold December
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