After winning the NFC North in 2022, it was known that the Minnesota Vikings would get a tougher than average schedule this season, which would mean better competition compared to what they faced a season ago.
While the Vikings do have to face the likes of the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Cincinnati Bengals as a result of their first-place finish, the team also gets to play the NFC South and the AFC West. Outside of the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs of the AFC West, there’s not a team from those two divisions that is considered to be an elite squad.
However, there is a nugget about the schedule that the media isn’t talking about- thanks to the presence of Kirk Cousins at quarterback, Minnesota will have an advantage at the game’s most important position for a majority of their games this season.
Quarterbacks The Vikings Face In 2023
Following the Aaron Rodgers-Jets trade, there is a serious argument for Cousins being the best quarterback in the NFC North. While Jared Goff is in the same tier of quarterback as Cousins, Justin Fields still has to improve as a passer and we don’t know much about Jordan Love.
In facing the NFC South, the Vikings will have an advantage at quarterback in all four games against that division. The best quarterback from that division that the Vikings will face is Derek Carr of the Saints, and that game is at home. Other than him, the team will likely face Baker Mayfield of the Buccaneers, Bryce Young of the Panthers, and Desmond Ridder of the Falcons.
The Vikings play 12 games against the NFC each year, and only one team on their in-conference schedule can indisputably say they have a quarterback better than Kirk Cousins- the Eagles, who have Jalen Hurts.
The other elite quarterbacks that the team will play this year will come from the AFC, when the team plays Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, and Joe Burrow. In fact, that leads into another hidden nugget on this schedule.
Vikings Schedule Is Set Up Perfectly In Terms of Quarterback Matchups
As mentioned, the Vikings will face four truly great quarterbacks this year, but the schedule sets up nicely as to when they face those quarterbacks.
Outside of when the team travels to Cincinnati to play Burrow’s Bengals in Week 15, the Vikings will face all of their elite quarterback competition early in the season. After traveling to Philadelphia to play Hurts’ Eagles in Week 2, the Vikings will host Herbert’s Chargers and Mahomes’ Chiefs in Weeks 3 and 5, respectively.
The schedule is set up nicely to where the Vikings get most of their tougher games and quarterback matchups out of the way by early October, with the exception of the Bengals game. Another cool thing about this schedule is that the Vikings only have two road games against elite quarterbacks, which can go a long way in how the team does this year.
While the Vikings will also face Jared Goff and Russell Wilson, the judgment as to whether or not they are better than Cousins remains to be seen. Let’s see how those two perform this year prior to when the Vikings play those teams.
This year, the Vikings will have a minimum of 10 games where they can say they have the better quarterback. There will only be four games where they will be inferior at the position, and the games against Goff and Wilson remain to be seen.
People are calling for the Vikings to regress 2023, and while that may happen, their advantage at the game’s most important position could play a key role in the team’s performance this year. Don’t forget that Cousins is going into his second year with the Kevin O’Connell-Wes Phillips coaching tandem, and he still has Justin Jefferson and all of his offensive weapons from 2022 at his disposal.