Breakdown: The Minnesota Vikings' schedule reflects low expectations for their 2012 season. They'll have one prime-time game, a Thursday night matchup in Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and 13 of their other 15 games are scheduled for the early 1 p.m. ET Sunday time slot.
The good news is the Vikings have a chance for a decent start. They'll host the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by first-year coach Mike Mularkey, in Week 1. And then they'll travel to the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts, led by another first-year coach in Chuck Pagano and presumably led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.
Even for a team with modest goals, a 2-0 start is within reach.
Complaint department: The Vikings play four of their final six games on the road, including potential cold-weather games in Green Bay and Chicago. That's not a schedule conducive to a young team hoping to progress as the season wears on. And while the Vikings-Packers rivalry has diminished in recent years, it would be nice to see at least one of the games take place before December. But as this schedule reads, the teams will play at Lambeau Field in Week 13 and at the Metrodome in Week 17.
Final Minnesota game? The collapse of the Vikings' stadium bill puts the focus on their long-term future and begs this question: Will the Packers-Vikings game in Week 17 be the Vikings' final game in Minnesota? In many ways, the Packers would be an appropriate opponent for that game. Minnesota was Packers country before the NFL placed the Vikings there in 1960.
Vikings Regular-Season Schedule (All times ET)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, San Francisco, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, at Washington, 4:15 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, Arizona, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 25, Tampa Bay, 8:20 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at Seattle, 4:05 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, at Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Green Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, at St. Louis, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Green Bay, 1:00 PM