The Vikings’ 2018 schedule begins where last season’s ended, as Minnesota is slated to travel to Philadelphia for the season-opener and a rematch of last year’s NFC title game. It’s just one of several intriguing games on the Vikings’ regular-season schedule.
Pat Shurmur and Case Keenum are out, and John DeFilippo and Kirk Cousins are in. But despite some changes, Minnesota and its trusty defense figure to be contenders in the NFC playoff hunt this season. That is, if they can navigate what appears to be a tough 2018 schedule.
Below is a breakdown of the Vikings’ 2018 schedule.
Vikings schedule 2018
|Date||Opponent||Kickoff time||TV network|
|Sept. 9||vs San Francisco 49ers||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Sept. 16||at Green Bay Packers||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Sept. 23||vs Buffalo Bills||1 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Sept. 27||at Los Angeles Rams||8:20 p.m.||(FOX/NFLN)|
|Oct. 7||at Philadelphia Eagles||4:25 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 14||vs Arizona Cardinals||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 21||at New York Jets||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 28||vs New Orleans Saints||8:20 p.m.||(NBC)|
|Nov. 4||vs Detroit Lions||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 18||at Chicago Bears||1 p.m.||(NBC)|
|Nov. 25||vs Green Bay Packers||8:20 p.m.||(NBC)|
|Dec. 2||at New England Patriots||4:25 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 10||at Seattle Seahawks (Mon)||8:15 P.M.||(ESPN)|
|Dec. 16||vs Miami Dolphins||1 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Dec. 23||at Detroit Lions||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 30||vs Chicago Bears||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
Naturally, all eyes will be on Cousins as the Vikings pursue their first Super Bowl berth since the 1976 season.
The 29-year-old thew for at least 4,000 yards in each of his last three seasons with the Washington Redskins, and he racked up 81 scores through the air during that stretch.
In Minnesota, he’ll look to replicate that production—or improve upon it—with playmakers Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and tight end Kyle Rudolph at his disposal.
The Vikings will also receive a boost out of the backfield when Dalvin Cook returns from an ACL tear that derailed a promising rookie campaign.
Prior to hitting injured reserve, the Florida State product looked like a legitimate offensive cornerstone as he rushed for 354 yards and two touchdowns while ripping off 4.8 yards per carry through his first four appearances.
On defense, the Vikings will return the key pieces from a unit that led the NFL in scoring defense (15.8 points per game) last season.
Plus, they added defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on a one-year prove-it deal and will now roll out a front four featuring Richardson and Linval Joseph on the interior with Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter coming off the edge.
Taken all together, the Vikings have the makings of one of the NFL’s most balanced teams and one that can legitimately challenge the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC crown.
As always, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will represent a litmus test for the Vikings as they vie for NFC North superiority.
However, Minnesota’s annual meetings with the Cheeseheads won’t be the most compelling matchups on the schedule this year.
That designation belongs to a pair of postseason rematches.
The first will come in Week 5 when the Vikings head to Lincoln Financial Field for a showdown with the Eagles in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game.
The other will come in the form a divisional-round playoff rematch with the New Orleans Saints in Week 8.
In that one, it will be the Vikings trying to stave off a motivated Saints squad that watched its Super Bowl hopes crumble when Diggs broke loose for a 61-yard game-winning touchdown as time expired to hand Minnesota a 29-24 win.
Toughest tests: The aforementioned Eagles game is the first of several challenges. Another postseason rematch, against the Saints, is just as tough. Beyond those game and the always-dangerous NFC North contests, road trips to LA to play the Rams and to New England to play the Patriots are the Vikings’ key games.
Biggest breaks: The Vikings are fortunate to get the Saints at home, avoiding the intimidation factor of the Superdome and welcoming New Orleans back to the site of the Minneapolis Miracle. With the exception of the Patriots game, the AFC East presents the Vikings multiple winnable games on their schedule.
Bottom line: There isn’t much reason to expect a big drop-off this season for the Vikings, so the focus turns to their opponents. If teams like the Bears, Lions, Rams and 49ers take the steps of improvement many expect them to take, the strength of Minnesota’s schedule will increase significantly. Some of those non-divisional NFC games on the schedule will have the Vikings thinking about the playoffs, but their first priority should be defending their NFC North title. Record prediction: 9-7