All eyes are on the Minnesota Vikings. A season after winning 11 games and clinching the NFC North division title, the pressure is on to exceed last year’s surprising results. The Vikings won’t open the regular season at U.S. Bank Stadium — they’ll host the Green Bay Packers in Week 2 — but the team has released its full 2016 regular season schedule.
As winners of the division last season, the Vikings will play the most difficult schedule of all NFC North teams. Minnesota currently has the 18th-toughest schedule in the league, as their opponents finished 2015 with a combined 125-131 (.488) record. While the Packers, Lions, Bears, and Vikings will play games against the NFC East and AFC South — two of the league’s worst divisions last year — Minnesota is the only one among the four to play both the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals.
The Vikings’ sudden turnaround makes the team an attractive option for major networks like NBC, ESPN, and the NFL Network. Thus, Minnesota will appear in multiple primetime slots this season, from a Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants on October 3 to a Halloween night matchup with the Bears at Soldier Field.
Below, a full schedule of dates and times taken from the team’s official website:
Week 1 | Sunday, Sept. 11 | at Tennessee Titans | Noon | FOX
Week 2 | Sunday, Sept. 18 | Green Bay Packers | 7:30 PM | NBC
Week 3 | Sunday, Sept 25 | at Carolina Panthers | Noon | FOX
Week 4 | Monday, Oct. 3 | New York Giants | 7:30 PM | ESPN
Week 5 | Sunday, Oct. 9 | Houston Texans | Noon* | CBS
Week 6 | BYE WEEK
Week 7 | Sunday, Oct. 23 | at Philadelphia Eagles | Noon* | FOX
Week 8 | Monday, Oct. 31 | at Chicago Bears | 7:30 PM | ESPN
Week 9 | Sunday, Nov. 6 | Detroit Lions | Noon* | FOX
Week 10 | Sunday, Nov. 13 | at Washington Redskins | Noon* | FOX
Week 11 | Sunday, Nov. 20 | Arizona Cardinals | Noon* | FOX
Week 12 | Thursday, Nov. 24 | at Detroit Lions | 11:30 AM | FOX
Week 13 | Thursday, Dec. 1 | Dallas Cowboys | 7:25 PM | NBC / NFLN
Week 14 | Sunday, Dec. 11 | at Jacksonville Jaguars | Noon* | FOX
Week 15 | Sunday, Dec. 18 | Indianapolis Colts | Noon* | CBS
Week 16 | Saturday, Dec. 24 | at Green Bay Packers | Noon* | FOX
Week 17 | Sunday, Jan. 1 | Chicago Bears | Noon* | FOX
The Vikings have another early bye week, this time coming in Week 6 of the regular season. They’ll also play four primetime games, with three of those coming in U.S. Bank Stadium. On another note, the Vikings only have one multi-game road stretch, which comes in the middle of October.
What do you think of the schedule? Are you excited to attend some games in the new stadium? Predict the team’s way-too-early record in the comments below!