Vikings face tough road back-to-backs, including Rams and Eagles

The Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to be their new starting quarterback. AP Photo/Jim Mone

The NFL has released its 2018 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Minnesota Vikings.

Breakdown: After opening the season at U.S. Bank Stadium for a second straight year, Minnesota hits the road for three of its first five games: at Green Bay in Week 2, followed by back-to-back outings at the Los Angeles Rams and in Philadelphia in Weeks 4 and 5. In the first five weeks alone, the Vikings will face quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff and (presumably) Carson Wentz. That’s a brutal stretch but an important test for the league’s No. 1 defense. Between a preseason meeting with Denver and when Arizona comes to town in Week 6 followed by a road game against the Jets the next Sunday, the Vikings could see three of their former quarterbacks in Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. Weeks 9 through 12 contain a critical stretch of NFC North matchups (with a bye sandwiched in Week 10) capped off by a prime-time showdown in Minneapolis against the Packers. The Vikings have only one stretch of back-to-back home games, in Weeks 8 and 9 when they host a rematch of the divisional playoffs against the Saints and end the first half of their season against Detroit.

Best of the best: The Vikings are the only team to play the defending conference champions on the road: in Philadelphia in Week 5 and at New England in Week 13. Minnesota’s season ended at Lincoln Financial Field in the NFC Championship Game in January when new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was on the opposite sideline coaching Nick Foles to victory. The defending AFC champions host the Vikings for the first time in Mike Zimmer’s tenure as head coach. Minnesota is looking to win its first game against New England since 2000.

Prime-time, baby: Minnesota will be in the national spotlight during four prime-time games. The Vikings fulfill their Thursday Night Football duties in Week 4 when they travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams’ prolific passing attack and a defense that’s going to challenge Minnesota for the title of best in the league. Week 8 might not feature another Minneapolis Miracle, but the Saints come to town for a showdown with a team that stunted their hopes of reaching Super Bowl LII. Four weeks later, the Vikings are on Sunday Night Football again, hosting Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium. After meeting in the preseason, the Vikings travel to Seattle for a second time for a game with the Seahawks on Monday Night Football in Week 14.

Strength of schedule: T-8th, .520

Vikings' Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, San Francisco, 1 p.m.

  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Green Bay, 1 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, Buffalo, 1 p.m.

  • Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 27, at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at Philadelphia, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Arizona, 1 p.m.

  • Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at NY Jets, 1 p.m.

  • Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, New Orleans, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, Detroit, 1 p.m.

  • Week 10: BYE

  • Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Chicago, 1 p.m.

  • Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, Green Bay, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at New England, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 14: Monday, Dec. 10, at Seattle, 8:15 p.m.

  • Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, Miami, 1 p.m.

  • Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Detroit, 1 p.m.

  • Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Chicago, 1 p.m.