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Breaking down Minnesota’s 2019 schedule

The season is only 144 days away!

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Nothing like a good schedule reveal to spice things up around the NFL. After a wildly disappointing campaign, the 2019 season can’t come soon enough for the Vikings. Now that we know who the Vikings will be playing and when, let’s take a look at what they’ll have to deal with in 2019.

I’m not going to do a record prediction, because the season is far away and lots of stuff will happen before then. Feel free to give your own in the comments if you want.

(A link to the full schedule, as well as some initial thoughts from Eric and Chris, can be found here)

September: Atlanta Falcons (home), Green Bay Packers (away), Oakland Raiders (home), Chicago Bears (away)

The opener will definitely be an interesting one. I’m not quite sure what to expect from the Falcons in 2019 after a slew of inconsistent years for them. It’s going to be the type of game the Vikings need to win, especially with a trip to Green Bay just a week later. The only thing I can think of when I see that game on the schedule is last year’s game at Green Bay, also known as the Daniel Carlson game. If the Vikings don’t beat the Falcons, there will be a lot of pressure to get a win at Green Bay and avoid an 0-2 start.

Speaking of Carlson, how about his return as a Week 3 storyline? The guy turned his rookie season around after getting cut by Minnesota, and he’ll likely return as Oakland’s kicker in this one. The Raiders have three first-round draft picks, so we’ll have a better picture of how they’re shaping up after the draft. But no matter what Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock do, the Vikings should not lose to the Raiders at home.

I’m excited for the Bears game, mostly because I’ll probably be there and I want revenge on the Bears fans who did not have nice things to say to me during last season’s game. Chicago is due for a regression, and it would be sweet to deal them a loss so early in the season.

This could actually end up being a very important stretch for Minnesota, with two NFC North road games in the first four weeks. If the Vikings come out of September with wins over the Bears and Packers on the road, they’ll be in the driving seat in the division for quite some time.

October: New York Giants (away), Philadelphia Eagles (home), Detroit Lions (away), Washington Redskins (home, Thurs.)

Hello, NFC East. The Giants are probably going to be awful, so that should be an easy win, even on the road. I like that Vikings fans will finally have the chance to welcome Eagles fans to U.S. Bank Stadium after two straight games in Philly, and this should be a good game. We really don’t know what Carson Wentz is gonna do in 2019, but that’ll have a huge impact on this one. I don’t think the Lions are going to take much of a step, so that’s another very winnable road game in the division.

How about the storylines around the Thursday Night Football game? Case Keenum is set to make his return to U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time since the Minneapolis Miracle (yes I know the Broncos played there in the preseason last year, no that doesn’t count) and should get quite an ovation. Adrian Peterson will join him in the backfield. And on the other side, Kirk Cousins will get his first crack at his old team, and given the relationship they had, he should be pretty fired up for this one.

November: Kansas City Chiefs (away), Dallas Cowboys (away), Denver Broncos (home), BYE

The month starts with the most difficult two-game stretch of the season. Kansas City was a dumb penalty away from going to the Super Bowl a season ago, and they’re returning pretty much their entire core. Obviously there will be questions about how Patrick Mahomes will follow up his MVP season, but the Chiefs are a legit Super Bowl contender from the get-go. I’m skeptical about the Cowboys because you never really know what you’re gonna get, but a full season of Dak Prescott-Amari Cooper chemistry could vault Dallas into the NFC elite. I’m not scared of Joe Flacco, and at home against the Broncos should be a win.

Given that October looks relatively easy for the Vikings, I don’t think this will be a make-or-break stretch. But if Minnesota stumbles out of the gate, this could leave them in serious trouble going into the final month of the season. I like the late bye, and the Vikings play on a Monday Night out of it, so they’ll get a nice break before the stretch run.

December: Seattle Seahawks (away, Mon.), Detroit Lions (home), Los Angeles Chargers (away), Green Bay Packers (home, Mon.), Chicago Bears (home).

Woah. Playing at Seattle is never easy, and that’ll be a tough way to start the month. The Chargers were very scary last season and will probably be a playoff team again, so those two road games will be true tests. Finishing with two division games is never easy, but the NFC North probably won’t be decided until this stretch (Green Bay and Chicago will also meet in Week 15). That Week 17 game against the Bears could be a great chance for the Vikings to exorcise their demons from a season ago, or it could be the end of another incredibly disappointing season. Who knows.

One weird thing is the Vikings won’t play a division game from Oct. 20 to Dec. 8. and will play three NFC North road games before hosting each of their division rivals in December. A 3-0 or 2-1 start in the division would pay huge dividends in the regular season’s final month.

Who’s ready for football?