Fresh off receiving a monster contract extension from the Vikings, cornerback Xavier Rhodes is going to have a chance to live up to the "best cornerback in the NFL" billing NFL.com gave him in January.
At least half the games on the Vikings' 2017 schedule will put Rhodes in a one-one-one matchup with a superstar wide receiver.
Right off the bat he gets Saints star rookie Michael Thomas on Monday Night Football. Then it's on to face Antonio Brown (Steelers) and Mike Evans (Buccaneers) in Weeks 2 and 3.
Rhodes won't face an elite wideout against the Lions or Bears in Weeks 4 and 5, but he'll be back on the grind Week 6 against Jordy Nelson and the Packers, which should be a revenge game for Rhodes after Nelson torched the Vikings in Week 16 last season for 154 yards and two scores.
Terrelle Pryor Sr. (Redskins), Julio Jones (Falcons), Kelvin Benjamin (Panthers) and A.J. Green (Bengals) await Rhodes later in the season.
Just eight of the elite guys Rhodes will be lined up against combined for 680 catches, 9,390 yards and 68 touchdowns last season.
- Michael Thomas: 92 catches, 1,137 yards, 9 TD
- Antonio Brown: 106 catches, 1,284 yards, 12 TD
- Mike Evans: 96 catches, 1,321 yards, 12 TD
- Jordy Nelson: 97 catches, 1,257 yards, 14 TD
- Terrelle Pryor Sr.: 77 catches, 1,077 yards, 4 TD
- Julio Jones: 83 catches, 1,409 yards, 6 TD
- Kelvin Benjamin: 63 catches, 941 yards, 7 TD
- A.J. Green: 66 catches, 964 yards, 4 TD
Even more frightening is that Pryor is now the No. 1 receiver for the Redskins instead of the pathetic Browns, and Benjamin was fresh off an ACL injury last season and Green put up his numbers in only 10 games.
Last season, Rhodes faced a gauntlet of tough receivers in three straight weeks against the Panthers, Giants and Texans. In order, Rhodes put the clamps on Benjamin (0 catches), Odell Beckham Jr. (3 catches, 23 yards), and DeAndre Hopkins (5 catches, 56 yards, 1 TD).
Hopkins' numbers looked solid but the truth is that he was held without a catch in the first half and his touchdown came in garbage time as the Vikings crushed the Texans 31-13.