Having a tough schedule is nothing new for Kevin O’Connell Vikings, who were stuck with playing all four teams of each of arguably the two strongest divisions of the league, the NFC East and the AFC East.
Five of those eight franchises qualified for the postseason, and the other three were close to joining the Vikings in the playoffs. The purple team did quite well against playoff teams in general, as they won three of the five games against them.
Vikings Face Brutal Challange in 2023
Minnesota was already scheduled to play strong opponents, especially the AFC West could be a brutal challenge with quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert and possibly improved Broncos and Raiders teams. By winning their division, the NFC North, the opponents got even stronger, as the Vikings now face three additional division winners, and all three look like juggernauts.
The Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC North, the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, and the San Francisco 49ers via the NFC West, and, therefore, will play against the Vikings in the 2023 regular season.
The upcoming schedule has an interesting wrinkle. Minnesota is encountering all four teams still in playoff contention when the conference championship games kick off on Sunday, January 29.
O’Connell’s operation will travel to Cincinnati and Philadelphia, while the Chiefs and 49ers will visit U.S. Bank Stadium.
None of the four teams is expected to decline in the near future. The Eagles and the 49ers are built through the trenches, with excellent running schemes and incredible defenses. Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco is one of the generation’s great offensive minds, and his running system is the prototype in the league. Brock Purdy came into the lineup after Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury and looks like a star.
In Philadelphia, Jalen Hurts is driving the running game as one of the top running quarterbacks in the business. He adds a solid passing game with outstanding weapons.
The two AFC teams may have the top two quarterbacks in the business on their rosters. Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow have reached the AFC Championship game every year as a starter after their rookie seasons. Teams with star passers rarely see a significant decline, and the pair of passers could dominate the league in the foreseeable future.
Even outside of the four championship-caliber teams, the Vikings have a demanding schedule. Their opponents combined for an overall regular season record of 123-114. Six of the 14 teams qualified for the postseason in 2022, and four reached the conference title game.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt