The Vikings open and close 2019 at home, will play all of their division road games before hosting an NFC North foe, have plenty of captivating 1-on-1 matchups and are scheduled to have five prime-time games.
Minnesota will have a 44-day span with just one home game, but it won’t have to be on the road for more than two consecutive weeks at any point.
Michael Rand of the Star Tribune noted that the 16-game slate was finalized out of “about 60 trillion schedule combinations” once the order of opponents, days of the week and time slots are factored into the calculation.
Editor’s note: I don’t know if that number factored in the seemingly standard operating procedure of Minnesota hosting Chicago in the regular-season finale for the fourth consecutive year.
Rand interviewed Mark Karwan, a professor of operations research at the University of Buffalo who is in a group that was awarded a three-year grant to study NFL schedules in the quest of the most fairness for all.
Karwan told Rand that the total possibilities within one NFL season’s schedule have “more combinations than the number of atoms in the universe.”
To get a handle on all those combinations, the league locks in about 50 games before filling in the rest of the 256-game regular-season schedule. Some of those are coveted prime-time matchups, but others are less obvious.
Karwan also told Rand that Vikings fans should be fairly pleased with multiple elements of the 2019 schedule, including the avoidance of three consecutive road games, the fact that Minnesota will be home after both of its road Monday Night Football games and that Denver is the only team that will have its bye the week before playing Minnesota.
Yary ranked 8th among top 52 No. 1s since 1967
The 2019 NFL Draft will be the 53rd since the NFL and AFL held the first common draft to prepare for the merger (and formation of the NFC and AFC) in 1970.
Minnesota landed three first-round picks in 1967 — Clinton Jones at No. 2, Gene Washington at No. 8 and Hall of Famer Alan Page at No. 15 — and followed by becoming the first team to draft an offensive lineman from the No. 1 overall spot in 1968. The Vikings selected Ron Yary that year in the only time they’ve held the top position since 1967.
NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison ranked the 52 previous No. 1 overall picks since the first common draft and slotted Yary as the eighth-best pick.
The Hall of Fame tackle was as steady a player as there was in the 1970s — a six-time first-team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler. While you hear so much about the Vikings defense from Yary’s era — “The Purple People Eaters” — Yary was the most consistent offensive performer on Minnesota’s four Super Bowl teams.
The only other offensive lineman in Harrison’s top 10 was Orlando Pace, who was ranked two spots behind Yary.
Peyton Manning topped Harrison’s list.