Vikings winning NFC North created a nightmare 2023 opponent list

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Vikings will have one of the hardest schedules in the NFL next season.

All the Minnesota Vikings will have to show for their 13-4 record next year is a brutal schedule.

Minnesota had its best regular season of the Kirk Cousins era. The Vikings won the NFC North convincingly, but were unable to win a single playoff game. After falling at home to the New York Giants, Minnesota must turn the page to 2023. Unfortunately, the Vikings will have one of the hardest schedules to navigate. The order has not been set, but their 2023 opponents sure have.

Not only do the Vikings have to play a first-place schedule, they will have to face the final four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs: The Cincinnati Bengals, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers. One of those teams will probably regress, but keep in mind that all but the Eagles were playing for a conference championship a season ago.

Three first-place games to round out competitive balance plus nine games on the road is so tough.

Minnesota Vikings have arguably the toughest schedule in football next season

Here is a list of all 17 games the Vikings will have to play on their first-place schedule next year.

  • at Atlanta Falcons
  • at Carolina Panthers
  • Chicago Bears (Home, Away)
  • at Cincinnati Bengals
  • at Denver Broncos
  • Detroit Lions (Home, Away)
  • Green Bay Packers (Home, Away)
  • vs. Kansas City Chiefs
  • at Las Vegas Raiders
  • vs. Los Angeles Chargers
  • vs. New Orleans Saints
  • at Philadelphia Eagles
  • vs. San Francisco 49ers
  • vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

So you have your six NFC North games, four vs. the NFC South in its entirety, four vs. the AFC West in its entirety and the Bengals, Eagles and 49ers to round out competitive balance. Though there does appear to be cannon fodder on the slate as well, some bottom-feeder will be way better than it was a season ago. The perfect example of this would have to be the Detroit Lions in the division.

Although the Lions could pull back a tad playing a second-place schedule, keep in mind that teams like the Green Bay Packers and the Las Vegas Raiders are playing third-place schedules, while teams like the Atlanta Falcons and the Chicago Bears are playing fourth-place schedules. It would not be the least bit shocking if one of those four teams is markedly better than they were in 2022.

Ultimately, this is a prime example of why the NFL does a better job than any league creating competitive balance. The Vikings had a great regular season and will be rewarded with a daunting first-place schedule because of it. Even if they do get the defensive coordinator hire right, just look at the 17 games above and do not tell me Minnesota is not a major regression candidate for 2023.

Here is to the Vikings proving everyone wrong by winning double-digit games once again anyway.

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