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A Look at 4 Factors of Vikings Post-Bye Schedule

The calendar has flipped to November, and clocks are falling back an hour on Sunday as Daylight Savings Time comes to a close in America.

As the Vikings rest and recharge this weekend on their bye, took a look ahead

Beyond the bye

By Eric Smith |**@EricLSmith**

Vikings players have already answered questions about it, and there will likely be more to come following the return from this weekend's time off.

What went wrong after the bye week in 2016? And how will this season be different?

A quick refresher: the Vikings started 5-0 and looked like one of the league's top teams before having a bye in Week 6. Minnesota wasn't the same team after the break, going 3-8 the rest of the way and eventually missing the playoffs.

The Vikings were hit by inconsistent play and missed out on narrow wins (four losses were by six or fewer points). Minnesota also dealt with a rash of injuries (especially on the offensive line).

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday of this week that he will do things differently this time around, but he declined to get into specifics.

Minnesota will be tested right away after its break with a road trip to Washington, a site where the Vikings lost by six points last season. It will be the Vikings first opportunity to prove to the outside world that 2017 is a new season and that their post-bye week woes from a year ago are a thing of the past.

On the road again

By Lindsey Young |**@LindseyMNSports**

The title of Willie Nelson's classic song "On the Road Again" seems fitting for Minnesota's second half of the season.

Minnesota is scheduled to play four of its next five games on the road. The Vikings will head to Washington (Nov. 12), return home to host the Rams (Nov. 19) and then hit a three-game stretch on the road at Detroit (Thanksgiving Day), at Atlanta (Dec. 3) and at Carolina (Dec. 10).

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer speaks often of Minnesota's home-field advantage and the raucous atmosphere of U.S. Bank Stadium, and it will be interesting to see how the Vikings fare against a schedule heavy with away contests. Thus far, their pair of losses are split between a road game against the Steelers and home matchup against the Lions.

Minnesota will close out the 2017 season with two of three games at home – the Bengals on Dec. 17 and Bears on Dec. 31 – and a division-rival showdown against the Packers at Lambeau Field on Dec. 23.

More than turkey on the line

By Mike Wobschall |**@wobby**

Most people have Nov. 23 circled on their calendar because it's Thanksgiving Day.

The Vikings have it circled for another reason: they play the Detroit Lions. Yes, the same Lions team that has defeated them three consecutive times, including at U.S. Bank Stadium already this season and last year on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field.

The two losses last season were big factors for both teams, as the Lions finished 9-7 and made the playoffs while the Vikings finished one game worse at 8-8 and missed the postseason.

While the Lions got the upper hand in Week 4 of this season, it's the Vikings who sit atop the NFC North heading into Week 9. By the time the Week 12 showdown arrives, Detroit could be several games back, and the Thanksgiving Day rematch will have lost some luster.

It's more likely, though, that Detroit will bite, scratch and claw its way back into contention (they are likely to be favored in all three games preceding Thanksgiving Day), which sets up an awesome divisional game between the two clubs as the season approaches its final stretch.

Holding serve at home

By Craig Peters |**@pcraigers**

The Vikings are 4-1 so far in home games in 2017, equaling their results in their first five games inside U.S. Bank Stadium last season. Minnesota, however, went 1-2 in its final three outings down the stretch.

Hosting the Rams on Nov. 19 is the only time that the Vikings will play in the second-year venue in a 55-day span, so getting a win takes on extra significance.

Throw in the fact that the Rams have gone from 4-12 in 2016 to 5-2 and are 3-0 in road games this season, and the matchup takes on extra significance.

The Rams have scored 212 points and have only scored fewer than 20 points in one game this season after totaling 224 points and scoring 20 or more just four times in 2016.

The Vikings rank fourth in the NFL in points allowed per game (16.9) and have only allowed one opponent to score 20 points this season. 

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