AFC South team emerging as ideal opponent for J.J. McCarthy debut in 2024

Minnesota Vikings QB J.J. McCarthy
Minnesota Vikings QB J.J. McCarthy / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite selecting J.J. McCarthy with the 10th overall pick in last month's 2024 NFL Draft, it doesn't seem like getting the former Michigan quarterback on the field as soon as possible next season is a gigantic priority for the Minnesota Vikings.

The development of McCarthy appears to be what is most important for the Vikings heading into the 2024 campaign, and if the team ends up having to start Sam Darnold under center for multiple games, then that seems to be something Minnesota is totally fine with.

If McCarthy doesn't end up emerging as the Vikings' Week 1 starter, there are a few spots during the team's 2024 schedule where the rookie quarterback could make his NFL debut, but there's one matchup in particular that many keep pointing to as the one where we could see McCarthy take his first snaps in a Minnesota uniform.

Will J.J. McCarthy make his Minnesota Vikings debut in 2024 against the Indianapolis Colts?

After the release of the Vikings 2024 schedule last week, it didn't take long for Minnesota fans to start attempting to figure out when their favorite team's new quarterback might make his first start for the franchise.

Some have mentioned Week 7 at home against the Detroit Lions as a possibility for McCarthy to enter the Vikings' starting lineup for the first time since the team will be coming off of their bye week, and the rookie will have a week of extra time to prepare for the matchup.

However, the Lions are expected to be one of the top teams in the NFC again next season, and then four days after Minnesota's Week 7 battle against Detroit, they have to travel out west for a Thursday-night contest at the Los Angeles Rams.

Despite the fact that McCarthy would have extra time to prepare for the Lions in Week 7, he would have very little time to prepare for the Rams in Week 8 due to the short week. It's still possible, but Week 7 shouldn't be regarded as the favorite for the Vikings rookie quarterback to start for the first time.

That title belongs to Minnesota's Week 9 contest against the Indianapolis Colts.

For this matchup, McCarthy will have a few extra days to prepare since it will take place after the Vikings' Thursday night game in Los Angeles, and it will be played inside U.S. Bank Stadium, which will allow Minnesota's rookie quarterback to run the offense in a more controlled environment.

The Vikings' Week 9 matchup with the Colts is also the first of eight straight games for Minnesota that has them going up against teams who failed to make the playoffs in 2023. And while some of these teams will likely be better next season, it's a group of opponents that should give McCarthy more opportunities to experience success out on the field.

So, for now, it seems like Minnesota waiting until Week 9 to give their top 2024 draft pick his first start in the NFL is the most ideal scenario.

However, there is still a lot of time between now and the start of the 2024 regular season. So, it's still possible that we could see McCarthy emerge as the Vikings' Week 1 starting quarterback, or he could sit out for the majority of the team's games in 2024.

Nothing can be ruled out just yet.

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