5 Things to Monitor during Vikings Schedule Release This Week

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings will play nine road games and eight at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2023 — yes, it’s one of those years.

The NFL schedule will release Thursday, and the first game with unknown opponents [will likely] occur on September 7th — so four months away, to the day.

5 Things to Monitor during Vikings Schedule Release This Week

And when the Vikings 17 games are unveiled, these are five things to watch (ranked in no particular order).

1. When Do the Vikings Play the Panthers?

Adam Thielen Had 2
Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings walks the red carpet before the NFL Honors awards special at the Phoenix Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. © Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Keeping an eye on the timing of the Panthers game is intriguing for a couple of reasons. First — Adam Thielen. That’s right, the Vikings play against Thielen sometime this year, and he will have homefield advantage in Charlotte. The NFL could schedule this one right off the bat for the “Thielen versus his old team” storyline early in the season.

The other reason — perhaps more important — is the identity of Carolina’s quarterback. If the game takes place in September, Andy Dalton could be in the saddle as QB1, not yet patched over to Bryce Young. The Panthers seem to be hinting at gradually introducing the No. 1 overall pick, Young, into the offense rather than all of a sudden.

However, if Panthers-Vikings is in December or so, Minnesota is close to a lock in seeing Young right away in his young career.

2. Are Back-to-Back Road Games at NFC North Opponents to End the Season a New Thing?

set for Vikings at Bears
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Last year, for the first time in franchise history, the Vikings finished the season with back-to-back road games at the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. The Bears showdown in Week 18 was wildly unimportant, but that won’t always be the case.

In some eventual season, playing on the road versus the two foremost foes will matter and be tricky assignments. Was last year a new thing? Or a one-year outlier? Remember — at the Packers and at the Bears to end a regular season has occurred just once for Minnesota in 62 years.

3. Is the Chiefs Game in Primetime?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have never faced Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs have never played a regular season game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

For some reason — with no evidence or intel — this game feels like it should be in primetime. Perhaps it’s because the Vikings finished the 2022 season with 13 wins, and Kansas City won the chip.

On the whole, when Minnesota, alas, experiences Mahomes, will it be under the bright lights of primetime?

4. A Cold Packer Game Year or Hot Weather Edition?

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Sometimes the Vikings play the Packers at Lambeau Field deep in the heart of December or early January. In other years, Minnesota trots to Wisconsin in the heat while the kicker misses field goals like a goofball.

Which is it this year? Get it out of the way early? Or take on Jordan Love’s Packers in the cold?

Seven of the last eight Vikings games at Lambeau Field have occurred either in September or after Week 14.

5. Is the Holiday Obsession over?

Good Things Happen When the Vikings Win on Thanksgiving
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Since 2020, the Vikings have played on these occasions:

? Halloween (2021)
? Thanksgiving (2022)
? Christmas Eve (2022)
? Christmas Day (2020)
? New Year’s Day (2022)

It’s always the holidays. The Vikings deserve a break. Do they get one in 2023?

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.