The 2021 regular season schedule is officially here and set for the Minnesota Vikings and the rest of the teams around the league. A year after not reaching the postseason, the Vikings hope to bounce back this season and get back to the playoffs once again.
Minnesota will have a tough challenge to do that, having the fifth-toughest schedule in the NFL in 2021, based on the winning percentage (53.1%) of opponents in 2020. But with a majority of the roster returning from last year and the Vikings getting some key pieces back especially on the defensive side of the ball, they will attempt to make a run at a playoff berth by the end of the regular season schedule.
Minnesota Vikings Schedule Breakdown
1. @ Baltimore Ravens (Week 9)
One of the toughest, if not the absolute toughest, game for the Vikings in 2021 will be on the road against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens, led by Lamar Jackson under center, feature a talented team on both ends of the floor and now have some additional weapons for Jackson to play with in the passing game to go with his lethal running ability. Minnesota fans will be familiar with former Minnesota Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman on the other sideline, as he looks to lead the Ravens receiving unit after being draft by Baltimore this off-season. This will be a really tough road test for the Vikings.
2. vs Seattle Seahawks (Week 3)
Over the last few years, the Vikings have struggled against the Seattle Seahawks, more often than not when playing on the road in Seattle. Although this game will be at home for Minnesota, Seattle will still make for one of the tougher matchups for the purple and gold early on in the season. This afternoon contest could be a key game during the first half of the schedule that the Vikings might look back on at the end of the year.
3. vs Dallas Cowboys (Week 8)
How ’bout them Dallas Cowboys? Dak Prescott and company will come into Minneapolis to take on the Vikings in a battle on Sunday Night Football on NBC in Week 8. This game could be a challenging one for Minnesota not only because Dallas should be a solid team in 2021, but the fact is that Vikings always seem to struggle on the national stage and in primetime. One thing that could play into Minnesota’s favor is this matchup is that it’s the first game out of their Week 7 bye.
4. vs Cleveland Browns (Week 4)
The Cleveland Browns are going to be an interesting team this season. The Browns could certainly be a team we see take another step up in the AFC and emerge as one of the top teams in the conference. That reason alone makes this a hard game for the Vikings, who will welcoming former assistant coach and current Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski back into U.S. Bank Stadium.
5. @ Green Bay Packers (Week 17)
Assuming Aaron Rodgers will be under center for the Green Bay Packers this season, that makes this one of the tougher games on the schedule for Minnesota, which has been the case ever since Rodgers took over in Green Bay. Playing on the road in cold weather at the end of the regular season, when Rodgers and company are likely to playoff form, makes this a top five game for the Vikings in 2021.
6. @ San Francisco 49ers (Week 12)
The last time the Vikings played the San Francisco 49ers on their home field, it was in the NFC Divisional Round where San Francisco beat Minnesota to advance to the conference championship. When they make their return in Week 12, the Vikings could be facing an improved 49ers squad — regardless if it’s Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo under center — in a potential NFC playoff preview.
7. vs Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 14)
In their lone Thursday Night Football game of the year, Minnesota will host the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. This will be an interesting game simply because we saw two entirely different Steelers teams in 2020 and it will be interesting to see what team shows up to start the 2021 season.
8. @ Arizona Cardinals (Week 2)
The Arizona Cardinals could be a sneaky team in 2021, led by quarterback Kyler Murray and company within a potent offense. This game will be a battle of the offenses, so it will be a big test for the Vikings defense to try and pull together a few stops on that end of the field to allow Minnesota’s offense to pull out in front on the road.
9. vs Los Angeles Rams (Week 16)
The Los Angeles Rams were already a solid team, but then they went out and traded for Matthew Stafford to lead the team at quarterback. Stafford is someone the Vikings are awfully familiar with, having faced him twice a season since he broke into the NFL. Mike Zimmer and company have a good idea how to attack the veteran quarterback, which could play in the favor of Minnesota.
10. @ Los Angeles Chargers (Week 10)
Minnesota will get a mid-season warm up with road trip to Los Angeles in Week 10 to battle the Los Angeles Chargers and reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. Herbert is talented, but the Chargers still have plenty to figure out on both sides of the ball before we should get too worried about the Vikings with this matchup.
11. @ Carolina Panthers (Week 6)
Another season, another different quarterback set to take over under center for the Carolina Panthers. With Sam Darnold now the starter in Carolina, the Vikings get a look at the new-look Panthers early on in the season, but Minnesota should be able to hit the road and take care of business in Week 6.
12. @ Chicago Bears (Week 15)
In the lone Monday Night Football game for Minnesota this season, the Vikings will take on NFC North opponent the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on the national stage. By this point in the year, Minnesota could be seeing a team fully led by rookie Justin Fields at quarterback.
13. vs Green Bay Packers (Week 11)
Over the last few seasons, the Vikings have had some decent luck when hosting the Packers in Minneapolis for one of the two annual regular season contests against the divisional opponent. Zimmer and the Vikings have had the Packers number when in Minnesota as of late, especially if U.S. Bank Stadium in packed and the crowd is roaring as normal like recent years.
14. @ Cincinnati Bengals (Week 1)
To open up the 2021 season, Minnesota will hit the road to play quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, assuming the now second-year quarterback is back to being fully healthy after knee surgery. Zimmer will face off against his former team where he spent seven years as an assistant coach for the first time, although the Vikings shouldn’t really have to worry about whether or not they will come out on top of this one.
15. @ Detroit Lions (Week 13)
Let’s face it, things are kind of a mess in Detroit and the Detroit Lions have a lot to figure out both this season and moving forward with a new regime now taking things over on and off the field. With Dan Campbell now at head coach and Jared Goff as the starting quarterback, the Lions just aren’t a good team which will play in the favor of the Vikings in Week 13.
16. vs Chicago Bears (Week 18)
The regular season schedule will end for the Vikings the way it often does, with a game against the Bears in an NFC North showdown. Depending on where both teams are in the playoff hunt, this game could end up being one where one or both of the teams are resting players in preparation for the postseason. The Vikings hope that team is them in this Week 18 contest.
17. vs Detroit Lions (Week 5)
As stated above, the Lions are just not a good team, which makes this arguably the easiest game on the schedule for the Vikings in 2021. With the mix of Detroit not being that great and this contest also being at home in Minneapolis, the Vikings need to and should be able to take care of this game early on in the regular season.
Embed from Getty Images