These Vikings will be tested early.
Trips to Green Bay, Los Angeles and Philadelphia to play the Packers, Rams and Eagles will be strong measuring sticks for Kirk Cousins and the Vikings within the first five games of the season.
Week 1 vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, Sept. 9 at noon (Ch. 9)
The 49ers, headed by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, won their final five games last season. Garoppolo appears ready to elevate a 49ers offense that also includes ex-Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon and receiver Pierre Garcon.
Week 2 at Green Bay Packers
Sunday, Sept. 16 at noon (Ch. 9)
The Packers, even with Aaron Rodgers, look a little different after letting go receiver Jordy Nelson and signing tight end Jeremy Graham (Seahawks) and defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets) in free agency.
Week 3 vs. Buffalo Bills
Sunday, Sept. 23 at noon (Ch. 4)
After overachieving at 9-7 last year, the Bills proceeded to trade away quarterback Tyrod Taylor (to Cleveland) and left tackle Cordy Glenn (to Cincinnati). Buffalo signed quarterback A.J. McCarron.
Week 4 at Los Angeles Rams
Thursday, Sept 27 at 7:20 p.m. (Ch. 9 and NFLN)
The Vikings trampled the Rams last year 24-7, scoring 24 unanswered points at U.S. Bank Stadium. Now comes a short week and a trip to the Coliseum for a rematch of NFC powers. The Rams added defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.
Week 5 at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, Oct. 7 at 3:25 p.m. (Ch. 9)
The NFC Championship Game rematch features different passers in the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins and Eagles’ Carson Wentz. In free agency, Philadelphia bolstered a strong defensive line by adding Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. The Vikings did the same with the addition of Sheldon Richardson.
Week 6 vs. Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, Oct. 14 at noon (Ch. 9)
Sam Bradford can earn up to $20 million this year as the Cardinals starting quarterback. If all goes well, he’ll still be in the lineup at this point against the team that let him go.
Week 7 at New York Jets
Sunday, Oct. 21 at noon (Ch. 9)
Will Teddy Bridgewater complete his return and face his former team? The Jets threw everything at their quarterback problem, re-signing Josh McCown, adding Bridgewater and trading up for the No. 3 pick in next week’s NFL draft so that they can take a quarterback.
Week 8 vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday, Oct. 28 at 7:20 p.m. (Ch. 11)
A Sunday night rematch of the instant-classic NFC divisional game between the Vikings and Saints returns to U.S. Bank Stadium.
Week 9 vs. Detroit Lions
Sunday, Nov. 4 at noon (Ch. 9)
First-year coach Matt Patricia takes over a new-look defense that added Christian Jones (Bears) and Devon Kennard (Giants).
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 at Chicago Bears
Sunday, Nov. 18 at noon (Ch. 9)
Chicago’s offseason centered on second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, hiring offensive-minded coach Matt Nagy from Kansas City and signing free agent tight end Trey Burton (Eagles) and receivers Allen Robinson (Jaguars) and Taylor Gabriel (Falcons).
Week 12 vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday, Nov. 25 at 7:20 p.m. (Ch. 11)
On Sunday night, the Packers return to the scene where Aaron Rodgers’ 2017 season ended after a hit by linebacker Anthony Barr. At this point in November, the game should carry plenty of weight. The Vikings have won four of the past five meetings with Green Bay.
Week 13 at New England Patriots
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 3:25 p.m. (Ch. 9)
The road won’t be easy for the Vikings in 2018. A trip to Foxborough is also to blame. The Patriots have lost only five home games in the past five seasons with Tom Brady under center.
Week 14 at Seattle Seahawks
Monday, Dec. 10 at 7:15 p.m. (ESPN and Ch. 4)
The Vikings and Seahawks swapped defensive linemen this offseason with Sheldon Richardson now in purple and Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen in Seattle. The Vikings have lost four in a row to the Seahawks; that includes a 2016 playoff defeat.
Week 15 vs. Miami Dolphins
Sunday, Dec. 16 at noon (Ch. 4)
Miami’s offseason makeover included trading for defensive end Robert Quinn (Rams), cutting defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and signing receiver Danny Amendola (Patriots) and guard Josh Sitton (Bears) in free agency.
Week 16 at Detroit Lions
Sunday, Dec. 23 at noon (Ch. 9)
After back-to-back Thanksgiving games at Ford Field, the Vikings return to Detroit in December for a game that could help decide playoff seeding.
Week 17 vs. Chicago Bears
Sunday, Dec. 30 at noon (Ch. 9)
For the third consecutive year, the Vikings close the regular season at home against Chicago. Minnesota has won the past two Week 17 games by a combined score of 61-20.