The Vikings will get plenty of national exposure in 2017.
Their season begins against the New Orleans Saints in the Monday Night Football opener at U.S. Bank Stadium and the NFL season ends there too, with Super Bowl LII in February. Three night kickoffs and another Thanksgiving Day matchup highlight the Vikings 2017 schedule, which the NFL released on Thursday night.
Week 1: vs. New Orleans Saints
Monday, Sept. 11, 6:10 p.m., ESPN
The Vikings open the season at home for the first time since 2012 and only the second time in the last decade. They’ll face a Saints team that traded receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots and added ex-Lions guard Larry Warford in free agency to protect 38-year-old Drew Brees. Will free agent Adrian Peterson, who reportedly visited New Orleans this month, be on the other sideline?
Week 2: at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, Sept. 17, Noon., Ch. 9
Pittsburgh focused on keeping its own talent this offseason by placing the franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell and signing star receiver Antonio Brown to a lucrative extension. A 35-year-old Ben Roethlisberger might talk about retirement, but he still paced the Steelers offense to a top-10 scoring finish for the third straight season in 2016. This will be a tough first road trip for the Vikings.
Week 3: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, Sept. 24, Noon, Ch. 9
A young Buccaneers group on the rise visits U.S. Bank Stadium led by third-year quarterback Jameis Winston. The Vikings pass defense should be tested after the free agent addition of ex-Washington receiver DeSean Jackson, who will pair with budding star Mike Evans on the outside. Tampa Bay also added defensive tackle Chris Baker to pair with Gerald McCoy in the middle of the defense.
Week 4: vs. Detroit Lions
Sunday, Oct. 1, Noon, Ch. 9
Last year, the Vikings were swept by the Lions for the second time in three seasons. That hasn’t happened since the 1960s. Defeating Detroit will require more of a punch from the Vikings offense after averaging just 14.5 points in the two losses in 2016. This offseason, the Lions ponied up to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford by signing right tackle Rick Wagner and guard T.J. Lang in free agency.
Week 5: at Chicago Bears
Monday, Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
In the Vikings’ first trip to Soldier Field during the post-Jay Cutler era, they’ll hope the nightmares left with him. The Vikings boast only one win in the last nine trips to Chicago, where Mike Glennon is the new quarterback and receiver Alshon Jeffery left for Philadelphia. Glennon, 27, threw for 30 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while in Tampa Bay, but was 5-13 as a starter and didn’t play last season.
Week 6: vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday, Oct. 15, Noon, Ch. 9
The Vikings seek payback after the Packers put a nail in the coffin that was the 2016 season. Green Bay ended the Vikings’ slim 2016 playoff hopes by drubbing Minnesota in Week 16, a year after the Vikings claimed the NFC North crown in the same stadium. The Packers lost a couple linemen, T.J. Lang and JC Tretter, this offseason and added tight end Martellus Bennett to replace Jared Cook.
Week 7: vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, Oct. 22, Noon, Ch. 4
The Ravens strengthened last year’s pass defense that tied for the league lead with 18 interceptions by signing former Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson, who will start alongside Eric Weddle. However, the Vikings pass rush should be able to take advantage of the loss of right tackle Rick Wagner. Like the Vikings, the Ravens also fielded one of the NFL’s worst rushing attacks last season.
Week 8: at Cleveland Browns (London)
Sunday, Oct. 29, 8:30 a.m., NFL Network
The Vikings make their first trip to London since 2013, when they came away with a win against Pittsburgh. A rebuilding Browns team might not scare, but a slew of picks in the upcoming draft could turn Cleveland into a sturdier opponent. The Browns continue an annual tradition of quarterback shopping, but they solidified their line by signing guard Kevin Zeitler and center JC Tretter in free agency.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: at Washington Redskins
Sunday, Nov. 12, Noon, Ch. 9
A turbulent offseason for Washington included the dismissal of General Manager Scot McCloughan and departure of receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. The Vikings will again face quarterback Kirk Cousins, whom the Redskins tagged, after falling 26-20 to him at FedEx Field last season. Cousins completed 22 of 33 throws for 262 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings in the win.
Week 11: vs. Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, Nov. 19, Noon, Ch. 9
In what is Jared Goff’s first full season under center, he’ll at least have a solid left tackle after the Rams signed ex-Bengal Andrew Whitworth in free agency. Both Rams running back Todd Gurley and the Vikings run defense are trying to get back on track in 2017. First-year Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay, 31, is the youngest in NFL history to hold that position.
Week 12: at Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving)
Thursday, Nov. 23, 11:30 a.m., Ch. 9
The Vikings play on Thanksgiving in consecutive years for the first time since 1987 and 1988. They’ll try to avoid a repeat of last year’s trip to Detroit, when Sam Bradford’s pass was intercepted with 38 seconds left to set up a Lions game-winning field goal.
Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, Dec. 3, Noon, Ch. 9
Reigning NFL MVP quarterback Matt Ryan and a talented Falcons team will try to replicate their run to the Super Bowl after losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers. This trip to Atlanta will be tougher for the Vikings than in 2015, when they muzzled the Falcons offense in a 20-10 win. Falcons running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 24 touchdowns last season.
Week 14: at Carolina Panthers
Sunday, Dec. 10, No, Ch. 4
A reunion of sorts will take place in Charlotte as three former Vikings, left tackle Matt Kalil, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and receiver Charles Johnson, left for the Panthers in free agency this offseason. Minnesota also signed former Panthers right tackle Mike Remmers. The Vikings handled the Panthers in a 22-10 win during Week 3 last season.
Week 15: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, Dec. 17, Noon, Ch. 4
Losing left tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler in free agency will be tough for the Bengals to overcome up front, especially against a strong Vikings pass rush. Coach Mike Zimmer will try to take advantage while hosting Cincinnati, where he led the defense for six seasons (2008-2013) as coordinator. The Bengals stumbled through a 6-9-1 record last season.
Week 16: at Green Bay Packers
Saturday, Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m., Ch. 11
The Vikings return to Lambeau Field in what could again be a deciding outcome in the NFC North race. Aaron Rodgers dominated in Minnesota’s 38-25 loss in Week 16, when he became the only quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards vs. the Vikings last season.
Week 17: vs. Chicago Bears
Sunday, Dec. 31, Noon, Ch. 9
The Vikings once again end the regular season against the Bears, whom they defeated 38-10 in last year’s finale. Bears running back Jordan Howard ran for 288 yards in two games against Minnesota. The Vikings have won five straight in Minneapolis against Chicago.