We already know who the Vikings will play during the 16 games of the regular season; of course we don't know when those games will be, but we know the opponents. As of 3:00 PM CT on Thursday, we can now say the same thing about the preseason.
The Vikings' first "official" game will be at home against the Texans during the week of August 8-11. Their Week 2 preseason game (the week of August 15-19) will have them traveling to Buffalo to take on the Bills.
The third preseason game is usually considered the best gauge of a team since the starters typically play the longest. The entire country will get to see the Vikings' third preseason game since it will be televised on NBC. They will visit the defending NFC champions, the San Francisco 49ers, on Sunday, August 25 at 7:00 PM CT.
Minnesota will wrap up their 2013 preseason slate by hosting the Tennessee Titans. That game will take place on either August 29 or 30.
Specific dates and times of the three non-nationally televised Vikings games haven't been made official yet as the league tends to schedule the specifics a handful of days before the games kick off.
I think the exciting opportunity to have the most important preseason game on national TV against a consensus Super Bowl favorite will be a great test to see where this team is in late August. If the Vikings can hold their own for the first couple meaningful quarters against Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers, it will give fans a lot of hope heading into the regular season.
However, it's kind of odd that three of the Vikings' four opponents are repeats from the 2012 preseason. The Vikings played the 49ers, Bills, and Texans last year. The Titans are the only new team, replacing the Chargers from last year. The NFL has a very specific formula for the regular season schedule but their preseason scheduling doesn't seem to make much sense.
Of course we're still a draft, mini camps, training camp, and 127 to 130 days away from that first game at the Metrodome against the Texans. But at least we know (almost) when that game will be and who it will be against! Those four-plus months will fly by. Right?!
The breakdown of the entire NFL preseason schedule is available in PDF form here.