Thanks to the predictable NFL scheduling formula, we have known the majority of Vikings opponents for the 2023 season for quite some time. The entire slate of opponents has been officially verified since the final whistle of Week 18. We know that the Vikings will have eight games at home and nine games on the road against the following opponents:
- Chicago Bears
- Detroit Lions
- Green Bay Packers
- New Orleans Saints
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- San Francisco 49ers
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Chicago Bears
- Detroit Lions
- Green Bay Packers
- Atlanta Falcons
- Carolina Panthers
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Denver Broncos
- Las Vegas Raiders
- Cincinnati Bengals
We can already guarantee that the Vikings will face the defending Super Bowl champions next year—the Vikings will face all four of the teams playing in the AFC and NFC Championship Games this weekend. While we won’t know the exact dates of any of the 17 games until late April or early May and we’re still over seven agonizing months away from any of those games being played, there’s one very important aspect of the schedule that we can analyze right now:
Outside of an endless cavalcade of mock drafts and free agent/trade speculation, one of the most exciting ways to pass the time during the interminably long NFL offseason is charting your course to invade enemy territory. I have made an effort to attend at least one Vikings road game over the past several seasons (outside of the couple wrecked by COVID, of course). While I’m nowhere near checking off every NFL stadium on my bucket list, I have been fortunate enough to watch Vikings games in six different NFL stadiums outside of Minnesota and catch another two games in London over the past decade. With lots of great options on the docket for the 2023 season, I thought I’d provide my personal rankings of possible road trips that Vikings fans could take this Fall.
1 - Las Vegas
This one’s a no-brainer. As soon as the Oakland/LA/Oakland Raiders announced their move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season, I immediately honed in on 2023 because I knew that was the first time that the Vikings would visit them in the regular season. Of course the Vikings played in Vegas in the 2022 preseason, but that game was headlined by Vikings legends Kellen Mond, Sean Mannion, and Myron Mitchell. This could be our only chance to see the real deal in Las Vegas until 2031. Tickets will undoubtedly be in high demand, but for good reason. There should be a huge contingent of purple in the stands at Allegiant Stadium regardless of where this game falls on the calendar, and hopefully I’ll be among them.
2 - Denver
I ranked Denver this high for two of the same reasons that Vegas topped my list: the scarcity of Vikings visits and the abundance of things to do in the city outside of the game. I have been to Denver a couple of times, but never for a sporting event. Although the Broncos were a huge disappointment in 2022 and are mired in Russell Wilson-induced purgatory on offense, they still boast one of the better defenses and louder stadiums in the NFL. As long as you can stomach that grating “IN-COM-PLETE!” chant of the home fans, it should be an amazing atmosphere.
3 - Charlotte
While the top two destinations are pretty unassailable in my opinion, the rest of the rankings are definitely up for debate. I put Carolina at third for a few reasons:
- Depending on when this game is played, the Carolinas might be the perfect escape from plummeting Minnesota temperatures.
- The Panthers will likely have a lot of new pieces. They just hired Frank Reich as their Head Coach and your guess is as good as mine as to who will be taking snaps for them when the Vikings come to town.
- Every time the Vikings and Panthers get together in recent history, the game turns out to be pretty wild. Their last five matchups:
- The insane overtime game where KJ Osborn’s walk-off TD canceled Sam Darnold’s improbable fourth quarter comeback.
- Chad Beebe’s last-minute redemption touchdown after muffing a punt late that capped an 11-point fourth quarter Vikings comeback.
- The maddening loss in Charlotte that featured a game-sealing 62-yard Cam Newton run and likely cost the 2017 Vikings a chance to play the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl at home.
- A Vikings win as 6-point underdogs in Carolina that featured a Danielle Hunter safety, a Marcus Sherels punt return touchdown, and started to make us believe in the 2016 team. (Editor’s note: believing in that 2016 team did not turn out well.)
- The Adam Thielen Breakout Game® where the Vikings had two touchdowns on blocked punts at their temporary home of TCF Stadium.
If history repeats itself, the combination of location and thrilling game is pretty appealing.
4 - Atlanta
I don’t have a ton of interest in seeing this Falcons team play, and their crowds don’t exactly have a reputation of being among the NFL’s elite. But I have never been to Atlanta, another area which has no shortage of unique things to do. I would also like to compare notes between US Bank Stadium and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the latter of which opened a year after the former with a price tag of about $500 million more. And since I didn’t attend the Wild Card loss to the Giants, I missed out on the Ludacris halftime show. There’s a non-zero chance of seeing Luda when you visit the ATL, so that always helps.
5 - Cincinnati
I would certainly listen to arguments to rank Cincy higher on this list, only because the team that the Bengals have fielded the past couple of years has been so exciting. The Bengals should be AFC contenders again next year, their fans seem like a lot of fun, and seeing Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson on the field together again is worth the price of admission alone. But outside of the game itself, the city doesn’t exactly rank very high on my personal list of places to see. A big plate of spaghetti and cheese and visiting PFF headquarters isn’t enough to get me too excited to go there, especially if this game happens later in the season.
T-6 - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay
I’m lumping all the NFC North opponents together here because you can do these road trips every season. Although squeezing your ass onto frozen bleacher seats is extremely overrated, I’d definitely recommend a visit to Lambeau for those who haven’t been before. Solider Field is solid and it might be worth visiting Chicago before the Bears move out to the ‘burbs, as long as you can avoid the pockets of horrible fans that always seem to pop up in the stadium. I still have never been to Detroit for a game (or otherwise). I suppose I should probably do that one of these years, and this coming year might be a decent time to do so with the Lions likely to be the darlings of preseason prognosticators to win the NFC North. But it’s also...well, you know...Detroit.
Dead last - Philadelphia
Nooooope. I can absolutely respect the product that the Eagles put on the field. Howie Roseman has assembled a team that should be in the mix for years to come. I’m sure that there are dozens of Eagles fans that are kind and engage in the good-natured ribbing that you’ll encounter in most NFL stadiums as away fans. But I have literally never met an Eagles fan that didn’t turn out to be a complete nightmare, and I have attended no fewer than four Vikings/Eagles games in Minnesota over the years. If their traveling fans are that bad, I can only imagine the fans that treat every Sunday like they’re extras in the tailgating episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. These people literally take pride in being complete assholes. So forgive me if I pass on the chance of impending physical violence and blackout drunk fans spelling their team’s name at the top of their lungs for three-plus hours.
Which road game would you most want to attend in 2023? Let us know in the poll below and in the comments.
Which Vikings road game would you most want to attend in 2023?
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An NFC North opponent