The beginning: Two aging but dangerous quarterbacks and a rushing champion. The middle: Tough trips to Seattle (in prime time again?!), Lambeau (with fans?!) and Soldier Field (never easy). The end: Two North clashes, and two of the best quarterbacks in history. There’s a lot about the next 17 weeks we don’t know. But if the schedule holds as planned, the football ahead will be entertaining for us and a challenge for the Vikings. Beat reporter Andrew Krammer takes us on a tour of the season that starts Sunday:
Week 1 vs. Green Bay
noon Sunday (Ch. 9)
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers embarks on another run at 36 years old, with the offseason’s top reinforcements being his eventual replacement, first-round quarterback Jordan Love, and a second-round running back in A.J. Dillon.
Week 2 at Indianapolis
noon Sept 20 (Ch. 9)
The last time the Vikings saw new Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, he was turning the ball over (and over) for the Chargers in a lopsided Vikings win at Los Angeles. Rivers has a new locale and a better team this time around.
Week 3 vs. Tennessee
noon Sept. 27 (Ch. 4)
Last year’s AFC runner-up signed star defender Jadeveon Clowney to reinforce a defense that gave up 35 points to the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in Tennessee’s last game. Derrick Henry, last year’s NFL rushing champ, makes the Titans a handful.
Week 4 at Houston
noon Oct. 4 (Ch. 9)
The Texans traded star receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona this offseason, but quarterback Deshaun Watson still has Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller and now running back David Johnson, who could resurrect his career in Houston after injuries marred his end with the Cardinals.
Week 5 at Seattle
7:20 p.m. Oct. 11 (Ch. 11)
Another prime-time trip to Seattle, where the Vikings are winless in their past four visits. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is 6-0 against the Vikings in his career with 11 passing touchdowns to three interceptions in those games.
Week 6 vs. Atlanta
noon Oct. 18 (Ch. 9)
The Falcons made splashes with free-agent additions in DE Dante Fowler Jr. and RB Todd Gurley and hope a healthier defense can support QB Matt Ryan’s high-flying offense. Ryan has thrown for 4,000 yards in nine straight seasons.
Week 7: BYE
Week 8 at Green Bay
noon Nov. 1 (Ch. 9)
The rematch comes earlier this season, so we won’t know the playoff implications here until a couple of months later. Packers running back Aaron Jones, who had three 100-yard games in December, helped Green Bay sustain success a year ago.
Week 9 vs. Detroit
noon Nov. 8 (Ch. 4)
Quarterback Matthew Stafford returns after missing eight starts last year because of a back injury. Stafford and Kirk Cousins each threw for four touchdowns in their only 2019 matchup, a 42-30 Vikings win in Detroit, and much of the same firepower remains.
Week 10 at Chicago (Monday)
7:15 p.m. Nov. 16 (ESPN)
Who will be starting at QB for the Bears by Week 10? Mitchell Trubisky got the nod over veteran Nick Foles for the opener, and the last time Trubisky played he led a 15-play, 71-yard drive at U.S. Bank Stadium that ended in a game-winning field goal.
Week 11 vs. Dallas
3:25 p.m., Nov. 22 (Ch. 9)
Perhaps the Vikings’ most impressive win last season came in Dallas, where RB Ezekiel Elliott was stymied and Dak Prescott’s 397 passing yards weren’t enough. The Cowboys return with another threat in rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb.
Week 12 vs. Carolina
noon Nov. 29 (Ch. 9)
Former Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater signed a three-year, $63 million contract to join first-year Panthers coach Matt Rhule. Bridgewater will start with plenty of talent, including RB Christian McCaffrey and WR D.J. Moore.
Week 13 vs. Jacksonville
noon Dec. 6 (Ch. 4)
The Jaguars have sold off just about every piece of their 2017 AFC finalist team, including DE Yannick Ngakoue in an Aug. 30 trade with the Vikings. QB Gardner Minshew will also have to make do without running back Leonard Fournette, who was cut Aug. 31.
Week 14 at Tampa bay
noon Dec. 13 (Ch. 9)
Six-time Super Bowl champion QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski joined the Buccaneers, elevating an already potent offense. Antoine Winfield Jr. and Tyler Johnson, ex-Gophers and Bucs draft picks, might have joined a Super Bowl contender.
Week 15 vs. Chicago
noon Dec. 20 (Ch. 9)
Finishing the season with two NFC North matchups in the final three games means the Vikings can ill afford being swept again by the Bears, a team they haven’t beaten since 2017. Edge rusher Robert Quinn has joined Khalil Mack in Chicago’s defense.
Week 16 at New Orleans
3:30 p.m., Dec. 25 (Ch. 9)
A Christmas Day matchup may not have the fanfare inside the Superdome that it typically would have, but the likelihood of NFC playoff implications is strong a year after the Vikings beat the Saints with an overtime touchdown pass in New Orleans.
Week 17 at Detroit
noon Jan. 3 (Ch. 9)
The Vikings have won three straight at Ford Field, but projecting what these teams will look like by the regular-season finale is impossible. Detroit traded cornerback Darius Slay last spring to Philadelphia and signed CB Desmond Trufant and LB Jamie Collins.