One of the things Vikings fans hung their hats on in the early portion of last season is that they were able to start the season against a slew of inexperienced quarterbacks. In the opener, they got the rarely-used Brady Quinn. That was followed by Matthew Stafford making his second start and shaky Alex Smith. The Vikings won all those games.
Next came Aaron Rodgers, a second-year starter, career bust Kyle Boller and second-year pro Joe Flacco. The Vikings won all those games. It helped them get out to a 6-0 start that put the Packers in the rear-view mirror early and allowed the Vikings to cruise to their second straight division title.
2010 is going to be a much different story, although the season will start in a similar fashion. Granted, they open with Drew Brees and the Saints, but he is followed by first-year full-time starter Chad Henne and second-year QBs Stafford and Mark Sanchez. The Vikings will have the QB edge in the final three of those four games and many believe the revenge factor will give them an edge in the opener.
After that, however, it gets ugly. Over the next seven games, the Vikings are scheduled to face Tony Romo, Rodgers, Tom Brady, Jay Cutler, Rodgers again and Donovan McNabb. The only potential unproven quarterback is when the Vikings play the Cardinals and, if not for Kurt Warner's retirement, you could have added him to that list.
December will ease up from that quarterback Murder's Row, as the Vikings close with Buffalo and its question marks and, despite facing Eli Manning and Cutler in the next two games, both will be at the Metrodome. They will end against first-year starter Kevin Kolb and Stafford.
When the Vikings struggled last year, more times than not it was against a team with a strong veteran quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers handed the Vikings their first loss, Kurt Warner dissected them in Arizona and Cutler had his best game as a Bear in an overtime win at Soldier Field. And you can't forget about Brees in the NFC Championship Game – as much as you might want to try.
The Vikings will play nine games this season against teams that have quarterbacks that have been selected to Pro Bowls. The Vikings defense will be hard-pressed to shut these guys down and, unlike last year, there won't be a string of inexperienced guys to throw to the wolves.
The Vikings remain the favorite in the NFC North and the schedule shouldn't change that too much. There are only two teams different on the Vikings schedule than on the Packers, Bears and Lions slate of games. All of them will find themselves in weekly duels with strong quarterbacks, which points to the need for Favre to come back for another year. If nothing else has been enough to cement his decision, two games against Rodgers and Cutler and matchups with the Jets, Brady, Romo, McNabb and Manning should be enough to keep the competitive juices flowing.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings to get NFL's best QBs in 2010
Viking Update Top Stories
Men in the middle: Scouting free-agent MLBsThe Vikings aren't in the pressing-need category for a middle linebacker, but with Audie Cole a free agent and Mike Zimmer looking to amass troops, it isn't out of the question.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 10:11 AM
Notebook: Zimmer holding off on surgeryMinnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is holding off on another eye surgery until after the heavy travel period; and we also look at the futures of Chad Greenway and Adam Thielen.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 8:36 AM
Combine Research: Defensive Ends (Part 2)Who was a star basketball player who honed his skills in the boxing ring? What small-school star's abs have abs? What star rusher was taken under his father's wing? Those answers…
Packer ReportFriday at 7:19 PM
Combine Research: Defensive Ends (Part 1)Which top prospect has been without his mom for most of his life? Who is the son of a former NFL star? Who are two of the top small-school standouts? Those answers and more as we…
Packer ReportFriday at 6:54 PM
Vikings shut out from compensatory picksWhile four teams were awarded four compensatory picks each in the 2017 NFL Draft and 16 teams got at least one compensatory pick, the Minnesota Vikings weren't among them.
Scout NFL NetworkFriday at 12:29 PM