If the Vikings move to LA, who will the Packers New NFC North Rival be?
Recently on this site, Kris Burke wrote: “Nordic Burial? Why the Minnesota Vikings in L.A. Would Be Bad For The Green Bay Packers” where he argues that the Vikings leaving for warmer climes is likely to hurt the Packers. Just for the sake of argument, let’s explore if the Vikings did indeed move to LA.
In my November article “Packers Win Starts the Vikings Dominoes Falling…,” I mentioned that the “dominoes” were falling into place for the Vikings to potentially move out of Minnesota. While logical, at that point it was pure conjecture. Today the possibility is much more real.
The Vikings have failed to secure a new stadium deal with the state of Minnesota, who is in financially dire straights with a predicted $5 billion deficit. Add to that the overall state of the American economy, a deadlocked state legislature from partisan bickering and who just shot down the Vikings’ last stadium proposal, and it becomes apparent that there isn’t much other than the fans keeping the Vikings in Minnesota. Perhaps the state of Minnesota and owner Zigi Wilf will come to some sort of compromise, but if the Vikings do indeed leave Minnesota for Los Angeles, their assumed destination, the NFL would have to go through some drastic reshuffling.
Would the NFC North still be the black and blue division without the Vikings? It wouldn’t make sense for the Vikings to remain in the NFC North at a considerable disadvantage to the rest of the NFC North. While the Packers, Bear and Lions would only have to travel to the west coast once to play the Vikings, the Vikings would have to travel back three times. Everyone knows what a toll on the body a long flight takes and football players are no different, not to mention everyone likes to go home to their own bed.
More importantly, this also negatively effects the fans, while traveling from Green Bay to Minneapolis equates to a 1 hour flight, traveling to LA takes at least 7 hours and naturally is that much more expensive and that much more tedious. Most likely the rivalries between the Vikings and the rest of the NFC North would be diminished, which would probably reduce the ratings and therefore profits of each game.
So if if it doesn’t make any sense for the Vikings to stay in the NFC North, who would replace them? If the Vikings did move to the west coast, it then presumably makes sense that they would be moving to the NFC or AFC West, which then means its probably one of those teams would then become part of the NFC North. Below are probably the three likeliest candidates based on distance from the three other NFC North teams.
Denver Broncos – 928 miles from Green Bay: Currently in the AFC West with Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego, the Broncos are located in a NFL no-mans land with no team being closer than 500 miles from them. Mile High Stadium (aka Invesco Field at Mile High) would be a natural fit with the image of the NFC North, it’s an outdoor stadium featuring numerous atmospheric hurdles including its signature high altitude and bad weather conditions. Also, a Denver-Green Bay rivalry could quickly develop based on the 1998 Super Bowl, where at John Elway lead Broncos defeated a Brett Favre lead Packers in the final year of the Holmgren era and is the only defeat the Green Bay Packers have experienced in a Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs – 501 miles from Green Bay: Also currently part of the AFC West with Oakland, San Diego and Denver, the Kansas City Chiefs are closer to the NFC North teams than they are to the AFC West teams, with the Chiefs being a mere 400 miles away from Chicago. Arrowhead Stadium is an outdoor stadium that often features snow, wind and freezing temperatures late in the season – perfect for the NFC North. Kansas City is also probably the strongest team of the three, with an identical record to the Packers and winning their division last year. With Kansas City and Denver, a new Southern California rivalry might emerge between San Diego and LA.
St. Louis Rams – 420 miles from Green Bay: Currently part of the NFC West with the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis is one of the closest franchises to the Green Bay Packers that aren’t in the NFC North. St Louis would make a logical choice since an LA market would result in the NFC West being strictly on the west coast. A couple minor knocks on the Rams is that Edward Jones Dome is in fact a dome (not that I would mind seeing the Packers receivers running on the same field as the “greatest show on turf” and Aaron Rodgers getting to wear his favorite Nikes) and St. Louis does have one famous rivalry with the San Francisco 49ers, but that has waned recently as both teams have gone through long and tough stretches of poor play.
From a fan perspective, like Kris, I like how the divisions are currently setup, but from a purely economical standpoint (and the NFL is a business first), I think it makes a lot of sense for the Vikings to move at the moment. If the Vikings do indeed move to LA, I think it would negatively effect the entire NFC North for the Vikings to stay in the division. It would especially hurt the fans, who would have to spend a lot more of the time, effort and money in order to see divisional games, which are some of the most heated of the regular season.
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.