After a disappointing finish to the 2017 season in the NFC Championship game, Minnesota Vikings fans can officially begin plotting the team's path back to the playoffs. There are plenty of rivalry games ahead in 2018 -- Eagles, Saints, Packers ... the list goes on and on. More tidbits are ahead as FOX Sports North breaks down the 2018 matchups and explains what you need to know about each.
Week 1, Sunday, Sept. 9, 12 p.m.
Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers
Skinny: San Francisco went from the laughing stock of the NFC to a serious contender in 2018 in a matter of 24 hours. The 49ers swapped a second-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo in late October, swiping away the one-time heir apparent to Tom Brady from New England. San Francisco went on to win all five games Garoppolo started last year, and it boosted its roster in the offseason by signing cornerback Richard Sherman and former Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon.
Our pick: Win. 1-0.
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Week 2, Sunday, Sept. 16, 12 p.m.
Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Skinny: Good news for the Vikings: They won’t have to play Green Bay on a frozen tundra in late December like last year. Bad news for the Vikings: Aaron Rodgers will be back with vengeance after a hit from linebacker Anthony Barr broke his collarbone in Week 6, forcing No. 12 to miss most of the 2017 season. More good news for Minnesota: The Packers secondary somehow got worse in the offseason, as they traded away former first-round pick Damarious Randall and watched safety Morgan Burnett walk out the door in free agency.
Our pick: Loss. 1-1.
Week 3, Sunday, Sept. 23, 12 p.m.
Vikings vs. Buffalo Bills
Skinny: Quarterback Tyrod Taylor brought Buffalo to the postseason for the first time since 1999, and he was awarded with a one-way ticket to Cleveland in a trade with the Browns. The Bills brought in longtime backup A.J. McCarron to compete for the starting QB job with Nathan Peterman, who’s well known for tossing five interceptions in his first career start last season … all before halftime. No matter who’s under center for the Bills, look for Xavier Rhodes and co. to feast.
Our pick: Win. 2-1.
Jake RothJake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Week 4, Thursday, Sept. 27, 7:20 p.m.
Vikings at Los Angeles Rams
Skinny: In our 2017 schedule preview we wrote this about a matchup with the Rams: “If there was anything close to a guaranteed win for the Vikings, this might be it.” Oh, how things change in the NFL. Under the guidance of first-year head coach and boy genius Sean McVay, the Rams won the NFC West with an 11-5 record. And they’re even more scary after acquiring defensive backs Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, wide receiver Brandin Cooks and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Oh my. The Vikings’ first game on national television of the season will be a tough test on the road.
Our pick: Loss. 2-2.
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Week 5, Sunday, Oct. 7, 3:25 p.m.
Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Skinny: Inject these storylines straight into our veins, please. Minnesota returns to Philly where its storybook season tragically ended last year in the NFC Championship. But the Vikings have a new captain in Kirk Cousins, who looks to lead the Vikings to their first win over Philadelphia since 2013. It’s also worth noting quarterback Carson Wentz should be healthy to play in Week 5. If you’re planning on attending this game, wear a helmet. You never know what those Eagles fans are up to.
Our pick: Win. 3-2
Bill StreicherBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Week 6, Sunday, Oct. 14, 12 p.m.
Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals
Skinny: The matchup we’ve all been waiting for: a Sam Bradford revenge game. Bradford signed a $20 million deal with the Cardinals in the offseason, a move that’s looked at as rather desperate for a franchise trying to capitalize on a window that may have closed three years ago. He’ll have veteran Larry Fitzgerald to throw to, as the Minnesota native is returning for his 15th season in the NFL.
Our pick: Win. 4-2
Week 7, Sunday, Oct. 21, 12 p.m.
Vikings at New York Jets
Skinny: It looks like back-to-back weeks of facing former quarterbacks for the Vikes. Teddy Bridgewater is now a resident of New York, although it’s unlikely he’ll start in 2018. The Jets have veteran Josh McCown ahead of Bridgewater on the depth chart, as well as the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, which will likely be used to select one of the four top incoming rookie quarterbacks: Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield.
Our pick: Win. 5-2.
Week 8, Sunday, Oct. 28, 7:20 p.m.
Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints
Skinny: “Case on a deep drop. Steps up in the pocket. He’ll fire to the right side … caught by Diggs! He gets loose at the 30, 10 … TOUCHDOWN! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! IT’S A MINNEAPOLIS MIRACLE!” – Vikings play-by-play announcer Paul Allen
Our pick: Loss. 5-3.
Week 9, Sunday, Nov. 4, 12 p.m.
Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
Skinny: Former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia brings his beard to the Motor City to become Detroit’s eighth head coach since 2000. He takes the reins of a team that will looks similar to what it has the last few seasons – a strong passing game led by Matthew Stafford and an uninspiring running back tandem of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Detroit is 2-0 at U.S. Bank stadium, topping the Vikings 22-16 in overtime in 2016 and 14-7 last season.
Our pick: Win. 6-3
Jake Roth-USA TODAY SportsJake Roth
Week 11, Sunday, Nov. 18, 12 p.m.
Vikings at Chicago Bears
Skinny: Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago’s first-round pick last season, threw for 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Vikings in two starts last season. Last year, Chicago’s leading receiver was Kendall Wright, who signed with Minnesota in the offseason and will likely be the No. 3 receiving in the Vikings’ passing game. That speaks to the Bears’ talent at WR surrounding Trubisky last season. Chicago went out and addressed the need by signing Allen Robinson, who tallied 1,400 receiving yards in 2015 with Jacksonville.
Our pick: Win. 7-3.
Week 12, Sunday, Nov. 25, 7:20 p.m.
Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
Skinny: Does it get much better than a primetime matchup with rival Green Bay late in the season? Minnesota swept Green Bay last year for the first time since Brett Favre was wearing purple in 2009. The Vikings have yet to lose to the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium, and we don’t see it happening in 2018.
Our pick: Win. 8-3.
TwitterHa Ha Clinton Dix
Week 13, Sunday, Dec. 2, 3:25 p.m.
Vikings at New England Patriots
Skinny: Right now, this looks like the Vikings’ final tough regular-season test. Rumors have been circling around NFL Twitter that Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady are flirting with retirement. Let’s be honest, there’s a better chance head coach Bill Belichick becomes the spokesperson for Snapchat than those two hanging up the cleats. New England is looking for its eighth straight appearance in the AFC Championship game. A win over the Vikings would certainly help that cause.
Our pick: Loss. 8-4.
Week 14, Monday, Dec. 10, 7:15 p.m.
Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
Skinny: The storyline of former Vikings kicker Blair Walsh coming back to haunt Minnesota is over. The Seahawks, who benefited from Walsh’s infamous wide-left miss in the 2016 postseason, let Walsh walk after the season after he missed eight field-goal attempts and one extra-point attempt in 2017. Seattle is no longer the feared franchise it once was. The Vikings defensive line should have quite the afternoon against a pedestrian Seahawks offensive line.
Our pick: Win. 9-4.
Joe NicholsonJoe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Week 15, Sunday, Dec. 16, 12 p.m.
Vikings vs. Miami Dolphins
Skinny: The Dolphins did some soul searching in the offseason, trading three-time Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry to Cleveland and letting Ndamukong Suh walk to improve locker room camaraderie. Miami brought in offensive guard Josh Sitton, wide receiver Danny Amendola and veteran running back Frank Gore (who might play until he’s 50) to help ease quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s return to football after missing the entire 2017 season.
Our pick: Win. 10-4
Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Week 16, Sunday, Dec. 23, 12 p.m.
Vikings at Detroit Lions
Skinny: One of the best things the NFL started doing a few years ago was pile up divisional games late in the year. You never know who could be in the mix, and Detroit is certainly one of those teams that could go either way in 2018. Stafford has passed for 3,993 yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 16 career games against the Vikings. He’s 8-8 in those contests since being selected first overall by Detroit in 2009.
Our pick: Loss. 10-5.
Raj MehtaRaj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Week 17, Sunday, Dec. 30, 12 p.m.
Vikings vs. Chicago Bears
Skinny: Hopefully, the Vikings will be able to give Cousins some rest in Week 17 and gear up for the playoffs. Backup quarterback Trevor Siemian started 24 games for Denver the last two seasons and registered 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions along with a 13-11 record. He might get a chance to boost those numbers in the finale against Chicago.