The 2017 Vikings schedule was released Thursday evening, and there are a number of notable matchups, including opening the season against the Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium and traveling to London to face the Browns in Week 8.
Andrew Krammer of the *Star Tribune *gave an initial breakdown of the schedule. Krammer opined that it could be a difficult lineup for Minnesota, but the season also holds some sweet spots that the Vikings can capitalize on. He wrote the following of the Vikings road trip to Chicago in Week 5:
In the Vikings first trip to Soldier Field during the post-Jay Cutler era, they'll hope the nightmares left with him. The Vikings boast only one win in the last nine trips to Chicago, where Mike Glennon is the new quarterback and receiver Alshon Jeffery left for Philadelphia. Glennon, 27, threw for 30 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while in Tampa Bay, but was 5-13 as a starter and didn't play last season.
Krammer also said the matchup against the Rams in Week 11 could be intriguing.
In what is Jared Goff's first full season under center, he'll at least have a solid left tackle after the Rams signed ex-Bengal Andrew Whitworth in free agency. Both Rams running back Todd Gurley and the Vikings run defense are trying to get back on track in 2017. First-year Los Angeles Head Coach Sean McVay, 31, is the youngest in NFL history to hold that position.
In Week 15, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer will coach against his former team. Zimmer was the Bengals defensive coordinator from 2008-13. Krammer said Minnesota should hold the upper hand in the matchup.
Losing left tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler in free agency will be tough for the Bengals to overcome up front, especially against a strong Vikings pass rush. Coach Mike Zimmer will try to take advantage while hosting Cincinnati, where he led the defense for six seasons (2008-2013) as coordinator. The Bengals stumbled through a 6-9-1 record last season.
Limited Bud Grant bobbleheads to be available at this year's garage sale
Vikings fans have gotten used to lining up for Bud Grant's garage sale – an event that's happened multiple times over the past 20 years and for the past several consecutive – but Grant recently told Chris Tomasson of the *Pioneer Press *that this year's sale will be the last.
Fortunately for fans, the final sale will also feature a brand new – and limited edition – item: a Bud Grant bobblehead. Tomasson wrote:
The legendary Vikings coach has been approached many times about signing off on a bobblehead, but this time was convinced it could be an ideal item to promote his semi-annual garage sale, scheduled this year for May 17-19 at his Bloomington home.
"They've been after me for a bobblehead doll for years, and I just never felt the need to do that,'' Grant told Tomasson. "It's an ego-trip kind of thing. But somebody suggested to have them at your garage sale to advertise. You've got to have a hook."
Grant told Tomasson that the bobblehead, not yet priced, will include the likeness of his hunting dog, Boom, a black Labrador who passed away in October.
"I loved him dearly,'' said Grant. "I'm standing there (on the bobblehead) and I've got a duck in my hand that he's just given me, that he's retrieved, and he's sitting by my side."
Holler breaks down DT draft prospects
In a series leading up the NFL Draft, Viking Update's John Holler has taken a look at each of the positional groups and assessed what the Vikings needs are related to the respective position.
Holler recently broke down this year's defensive tackle class. According to Holler, Minnesota could target an interior lineman at some point in the draft to add depth. Holler wrote:
There are some solid players with strong college pedigrees in this year's draft class, but there isn't a ton of depth at the top. [Alabama's] Jonathan Allen is going early, but he's the only lock to go in the first round. There is talent and depth in the later rounds, but the overall grade drops slightly due to the lack of premium talent that there is at other positions in the Class of 2017.
The next grouping was referred to by Holler as "the next level" and listed Clemson's Carlos Watkins, Iowa's Jaleel Johnson and Alabama's Dalvin Tomlinson, all of whom were predicted to be drafted at some point on day two of the draft. Holler said that Tomlinson demonstrates a combination of size, strength and power, and he projected the following of Allen's teammate:
PROJECTION: A strong player who isn't just a nose tackle. He can be disruptive and blow up the pocket. He needs to polish his game, but his off-the-snap quickness will get the attention of teams at or around the turn of the second round into the third.
Holler's final category, "best of the rest," included Auburn's Montravius Adams, Washington's Elijah Qualls and NC-Charlotte's Larry Ogunjobi.