A week-by-week breakdown of the Minnesota Vikings schedule for the 2017 NFL season
The Minnesota Vikings schedule for the 2017 NFL season was released on Thursday night. Along with the 32 other teams in the league, the Vikes now know what lies ahead. Minnesota will finally host a season-opening game against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football to kick off the year
2017 will be interesting enough to say the least for the Vikings, seeing their lead running back test free agency along with the many changes in all phases. Additionally, it’s another year of Sam Bradford and an up-and-coming defense that could potentially improve off tremendous highs a year ago.
Here we will give a short rundown of each game, and give a few bullet points to look for as the season progresses in quarters.
Week 1: vs. New Orleans Saints (Monday Night Football)
Kudos to league for setting up an exciting first Monday night of football. Drew Brees and the Saints explosive offensive versus one of the best defenses of last season, this game may come down to the wire.
The Saints traded Brandin Cooks away to the Patriots, but yet they boast a multitude of weapons outside with a quarterback who can deliver. Minnesota’s offense will face a tough front seven, yet they can expose the secondary at will. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game didn’t have a 40+ over/under before kickoff.
A tough first four weeks continues as the Vikings head east to take on Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh. Minnesota hasn’t played the Steelers since 2013, and hasn’t won in Pittsburgh in 22 years. Needless to say, it’s been awhile.
Contemplating his retirement, Roethlisberger decided to return this year and give it one more go. With Big Ben’s career soon coming to a close, look for the Steelers to potentially draft a successor this year or the next. To the game at hand, Minnesota has struggled against the run game, and Bell may be the best in the league. It’ll be a close game, just don’t get your hopes up, Vikings fans.
Week 3: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The quickly rising Buccaneers bring a completely different expectation to Minnesota when they take on the Vikings in 2017. A team that nearly made it into the playoffs a year ago, Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and company will test this Vikings just as the previous two opponents did.
Now, will Adrian Peterson be the running back Minnesota faces come Week 3 or will it be Doug Martin? Or someone else? Two teams on the Vikings schedule are suitors for Peterson’s services. The Vikings will have difficulty running the ball with Gerald McCoy and that front seven, but could succeed through the air. Another intriguing matchup as Minnesota grinds through the first part of the schedule.
Week 4: vs. Detroit Lions
The first matchup on the schedule versus a divisional foe, Mike Zimmer and crew cannot allow this Detroit Lions team to come in and beat them on their home turf again. Over the last six years, the Lions and Vikings have exchanged wins and losses, and nothing will change in this one as both are very similar on both sides of the ball.
Minnesota boasts the better defense statistically, Detroit the better offense. Another showdown of strengths, Sam Bradford will need to prove that he can win games with his arm as the Detroit Lions front seven is very formidable.
Uh-oh, another game on Monday Night Football ahead of the Packers game for the Minnesota Vikings? This time last season, Jay Cutler returned to the starting lineup and put on a clinic against the poor Vikes. After seeing one of the worst performances of the season last season, Zimmer will make sure to not let this happen again.
The Bears are a huge question mark entering the season. With new quarterback Mike Glennon, nobody knows how exactly he will perform as a full-time starter. His body of work at Tampa Bay wasn’t bad, but no one’s sure if it’s good enough to lead Chicago to success though.
Week 6: vs. Green Bay Packers
Last season, Sam Bradford made his debut in purple versus the Green Bay Packers and had an amazing out-of-body like performance against them. The Packers secondary didn’t get any better in free agency, and who knows if they’ll address the position in the draft.
Either way I feel as if Minnesota’s best shot to pick up a victory over Green Bay is at home, even if it’s off a short week. Rodgers is one heck of a quarterback, but it’s too bad his defense is still very beatable in all phases.
Week 7: vs. Baltimore Ravens
This is a wild card game with a team that Minnesota hasn’t played in almost four years and five times total, Minnesota winning two of those games. Joe Flacco’s offensive line seems to continue to rotate out and welcome new faces and the offensive weapons are limited with Mike Wallace leading the group of wide receivers with Steve Smith now gone.
Baltimore needs Breshad Perriman to fill one of the starting receiver slots and be what they thought they were getting in their former first-round pick. With the influx of offensive lineman coming out and an inconsistent running game, Minnesota’s defense should flourish at home.
Week 8: at Cleveland Browns (London)
Another game that has me quite weary, especially before entering the bye week. The Cleveland Browns are quickly stockpiling talent at all positions, and could very well have the best pass rusher of the draft chasing after Sam Bradford if they choose Myles Garrett in one week. Brock Osweiler isn’t a franchise quarterback, and it’s almost expected that Cleveland will draft one as well with the second of two first-round picks.
At the end of the day, their team being young and inexperienced may hinder them in this game. Penalties, turnovers, the travel experience and so one could be factors. Minnesota has played overseas before, they are the more experienced team, and should have the better disciplined squad.
Right around where Zimmer would like his bye to be, probably one of the few “wish-list” items teams are supposed to submit to the league.
Week 10: at Washington Redskins
If this isn’t perfect timing to get Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins on the schedule, then I don’t know what is. The turmoil in Washington is no joke between their quarterback and the front office, and it was made even worse when the Redskins front office allowed Cousins’ two primary options on the outside to leave via free agency. Rhythm with Josh Doctson and the newly signed Terrelle Pryor may still be questionable, and who knows how that defense will play.
Minnesota will be well rested, hopefully some of their injures will be healed up during their week off, and they can come out with a ton of energy on the road. Washington hasn’t lost to the Vikings at home since 2011, though the tides may turn in 2017.
Week 11: vs. Los Angeles Rams
Will the real Todd Gurley please stand up? Well, not during this game, please. But you know, at some point. Coming out of college, Gurley looked like the second coming of Adrian Peterson. Lackluster blocking, a predictable offense and limited options caved in the chances of him (or the entire offense) being successful.
Let us not forget, Minnesota fans, this will also be Sam Bradford playing against the team that drafted him No. 1 overall back in 2010. This will mark the first game versus his former team, one that we bet he has marked on his schedule after they let him walk. The Rams are in a transition period under Jared Goff, and with a new head coach. Hopefully Minnesota doesn’t fall for the trap game.
Week 12: at Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving)
If this game is as competitive as it was last year during both games versus the Lions, Turkey Day fans should be in for a treat. Last season, the Lions snuck out of Minnesota with an overtime victory, then beat them again kicking a game-winning field goal on Thanksgiving. Detroit went out and spent some premium money on their offensive line, signing two guys the Vikings were rumored to being interested in, T.J. Lang and Ricky Wagner.
Maybe Detroit focuses on the run game more with Ameer Adbullah returning from injury. Either way, this will be another close game with turnovers dictating the winner. Matthew Stafford had an extremely efficient year last year, but has been known to be a bit less so throughout his entire career. The Vikings will need to capitalize when they can.
Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons
Starting a brutal stretch of games to end the season, the first of three away games in the final quarter pits them against the Falcons. Matt Ryan, last year’s MVP winner, at this point will be fighting for another playoff spot, and hopefully so will the Vikings.
Minnesota’s defense matches up with the Falcons weapons nicely if Trae Waynes continues to progress. His counter part, Xavier Rhodes, will be matched up against one of the best in the game in Julio Jones. With an extra day of rest, Minnesota should be able to keep up with the Falcons, but can they slow down the MVP?
Cam Newton should rebound this season along with the Carolina Panthers. The thought here is that Carolina and Atlanta will be neck-and-neck in the division while Tampa Bay and New Orleans are slightly behind. Believe it or not, once a weak division, the NFC South may become one of the strongest divisions in 2017.
The loss of Ted Ginn Jr. stings a little, but Cam Newton still has Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen and Jonathan Stewart to help him produce. The question is, who will win the spot opposite of Benjamin? Devin Funchess has progressed slowly, though he may be forced into the lineup. Minnesota defeated the Panthers handily last year, and they know their strengths and weaknesses well having played Carolina it seems like every season. If Atlanta knocks off the Vikings the week before, a hungry purple and gold could come in and win again against the Panthers.
Week 15: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
To this point, Mike Zimmer has yet to play his former team since joining the Vikings during the regular season even though they played during the preseason last year. The Bengals haven’t changed the personnel too much. Like Minnesota, Cincinnati does a great job a re-signing their own talent.
Trying to analyze this game is difficult since the body of work from Zimmer hasn’t been on display versus the Bengals during the regular season before. Zimmer should know some tips and tricks to beat his old defense, while being able to slow down the Red Rocket. Andy Dalton.
Week 16: at Green Bay Packers
Back-to-back division rivalries to finish the season, and these games always come down to the wire — especially in December. The fact is, Minnesota has only beaten the Packers twice dating back to 2012, and just cannot seem to find that clutch factor against their most hated foe.
Unless Aaron Rodgers is hurt, the Vikings may be playing from behind in this one. Green Bay rarely loses in Lambeau Field, Minnesota is a meager 2-7-1 in their last 10 games in Wisconsin, not quite the recipe for success. How both teams are finishing may determine how exactly this game goes; but if Rodgers is playing, Minnesota is probably losing this one.
Possibly a Wild Card or bust game for the Vikings against the Chicago Bears, a must-win matchup is much sweeter when the game is at home. Chicago’s defense could finally start to come around this season, and I love the prospect of Jordan Howard continuing to be the work-horse back for this team. However, their offensive weapons are still limited.
The Bears let Alshon Jeffery go, Kevin White has yet to play half a season (let alone a full one), and can Kendall Wright really be a difference maker in the slot after missing quite a bit of time? Minnesota’s defense should force Chicago to make poor decisions and dominate at home.