MINNEAPOLIS - Rick Spielman is just like all of us fans as we wait for the official unveiling of the 2020 NFL regular season schedule Thursday night.
He’s got some anticipation, and he’s curious to see how the schedule will shake out. As much as how the weeks will come together, who they’ll play on Thursday Night Football after a Sunday game and maybe most importantly, if the season will actually start in September. NFL officials have been consistent in saying they don’t plan to delay the start of the regular season despite the Coronavirus pandemic shutting down the sports world.
We’ll find out Thursday night what the NFL schedule will look like for all 32 teams. The NFL Network will reveal it live at 7 p.m. Spielman is most anxious for Week 1. After all, it's the first chance to set the tone for the season.
“I think everybody gets anxious for who’s the opener. Are you going to be on the road, are you going to be home, who are you going to be playing against? Everybody gets excited about who is the opener going to be," Spielman said Tuesday. “That’s probably the most unpredictable game out of any, because you just don’t know. That’s the first time you’re going out there when it counts.”
It’s a pivotal offseason for Spielman and the Vikings as they lost at least 12 players, eight on defense, for various reasons after earning the No. 6 spot in the NFC Playoffs. Spielman entered the NFL Draft with 12 selections, turned into 17 total by Day 3 and ended up with 15 new players.
He showed Twin Cities media film of the top nine selections on Tuesday, as well as insight into their pre-draft analysis into the picks. The reality for the Vikings is several players in the 2020 draft class will be looked upon to be at least significant contributors, if not starters.
“Our biggest goal is just once we get everybody on the field, let’s see how quickly these rookies start to develop,” Spielman said.
The biggest question there remains when players will actually get back on the field. The Covid-19 pandemic has put a cloud of uncertainty over the 2020 season. Team facilities are closed, players have to work out on their own and the newest members of the team are doing a fully-virtual rookie minicamp this weekend.
The offseason virtual program for veterans is already underway, and Spielman is pleased with the results so far.
“This thing has been running smooth, we’re getting everything out of the classroom work that we can get that we would normally get in the building. We feel very confident they’ll be able to catch up,” Spielman said.
So what could the 2020 schedule look like? If history is any indication, the Vikings are unlikely to face an NFC North Division opponent in Week 1. It’s happened just twice since Spielman has been with the organization, losses at Detroit in 2013 and at Green Bay in 2008.
Since Spielman took over as general manager, the Vikings are 6-2 in season-openers. They’ve also won four straight. Spielman started in Minnesota in 2006 as the vice president of player personnel, and they were 3-3 in openers until his front office promotion in 2012.
What we know is the Vikings will have six games against NFC North opponents. They’ll have four games against the NFC South, four games against the AFC South and games against the Cowboys and Seahawks. We know the home opponents will be the Bears, Lions, Packers, Jaguars, Titans, Falcons, Panthers and Cowboys.
The road tests will be the Bears, Lions, Packers, Texans, Colts, Saints, Buccaneers and Seahawks. The only thing we don’t know is the order of the opponents, and their dates.
Enjoy another three hours of the NFL being in the TV spotlight Thursday night, Vikings fans.