(Update: The full 2013 schedule is out. The Vikings open on the road at Detroit and Chicago. The bye comes early, in week 5. That is actually good, as the Vikings can use the week off after the Week 4 game in London against Pittsburgh, to recover from jet lag. Primetime games are MNF on October 21 at NYG, SNF on October 27 hosting the Packers, and Thursday night football November 7, hosting the Redskins..)
The 2013 season will mark a turning point in the history of the Minnesota Vikings. It will be the last season ever played in the Metrodome on the Mall of America Field.
On September 29th, the Vikings will play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium, London. This looming complex was rebuilt in recent years on the site of the legendary soccer stadium of the same name. It features a partly retractable roof.
The Vikings will play in the Metrodome in their other seven home games, and when visiting the Lions. The Vikings will also go on the road in 2013 to take on the Dallas Cowboys. While Cowboys Stadium technically has a hole in its roof, the hole is sometimes closed, and even when it is open, Cowboys Stadium is virtually an indoor stadium.
In the 1981 season, the Vikings played just one game indoors, against the Lions. Then the Metrodome opened, and starting with the 1982 season, the Vikings have played nine or more games indoors every year. That is eight games at the Metrodome plus one road game with the Lions each year. In 2010, the Vikings played one home game at Ford Field, thanks to the Lions' hospitality, and another at TCF Bank Stadium thanks to the Gophers', after the Dome's roof tore open. In 2013, the Vikings will have eight indoor games, or nine or ten if the Wembley Stadium game and Cowboys Stadium game are counted.
Interestingly, Wembley has a hybrid grass/turf field. Turf has become the rule in the NFL, and the Vikings will play only three games on natural grass: at Chicago, at Green Bay, and at Seattle.
The Metrodome era of Vikings history will end with the 2013 season. Afterward, the Vikings will move to a temporary, open-air home shared with the Gophers at TCF Bank stadium for two years. Finally, the long-awaited new stadium will be ready, and the Vikings longboat will venture into its new home waters. The decisions haven't all been made yet, but the new stadium will be either fully roofed
in the out-of-doors, or with a retractable roof that allows many games to be played in the open air. As the indoor era of Minnesota Vikings football history concludes, a new era, returning to outdoor football, will begin. Since the the stadium deal was voted on at about the same time as the 2012 draft, the 2013 offseason will be the first real opportunity for the front office and coaching staff to reset course headings and return the team's focus back to its historical roots: winning in the great outdoors.
The full list of 2013 regular season opponents:
Home - GB, DET, CHI, PHI, WSH, PIT (at Wembley Stadium, London), CLE, and CAR.
Away - GB, DET, CHI, DAL, NYG, CIN, BAL, and SEA.
The Vikings will get another crack at RGIII and the Redskins in 2013, as well as Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Some of the games will be with teams in transition, like the Eagles and Browns. There are plenty of physically-minded opponents on this NFC East and AFC North-themed schedule. The Vikings will find themselves in one slugfest after another. If they can rise above, they will be well-prepared for the playoffs.
There aren't any obvious victories on the schedule. In the 2013 season, the Minnesota Vikings will be put to the test.