4 Vikings Schedule Takeaways | 2023
Not much is happening in the NFL landscape between the draft and the start of training camp. A welcome change is the release of the schedule for the upcoming season. The Vikings play some tough opponents, especially because they finished first in the NFC North.
Subsequently, they play other division winners like the Bengals, 49ers, and Eagles. The Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs and their star quarterback Patrick Mahomes will also visit Minnesota in the upcoming season.
4 Vikings Schedule Takeaways | 2023
Here’s the Vikings 2023 schedule. Home games are in red:
- Week 1: Buccaneers (9/10)
- Week 2: at Eagles (9/14, TNF)
- Week 3: Chargers (9/24)
- Week 4: at Panthers (10/1)
- Week 5: Chiefs (10/8)
- Week 6: at Bears (10/15)
- Week 7: 49ers (10/23, MNF)
- Week 8: at Packers (10/29)
- Week 9: at Falcons (11/5)
- Week 10: Saints (11/12)
- Week 11: at Broncos (11/19, SNF)
- Week 12: Bears (11/27, MNF)
- Week 13: BYE
- Week 14: at Raiders (12/10)
- Week 15: at Bengals (TBD)
- Week 16: Lions (12/24)
- Week 17: Packers (12/31, SNF)
- Week 18: at Lions (1/7)
Must-Win Week 1
No season is decided in Week 1. There are 16 more games to be played after that matchup. However, it is crucial for the Vikings to win the game at home against the Brady-less Buccaneers. The team lost the greatest player ever and replaced him with Kyle Trask or Baker Mayfield. While some fantastic players are still on that roster, including a strong defense and a good receiving corps, the Vikings should be the superior team.
Regardless, that’s not why it’s a must-win game. The Vikings absolutely must start the season with a one in the win column because the next game is in Philadelphia, one of the toughest teams and stadiums to play. It’s possible that the Vikes can steal a win there, but it’s unlikely. The Eagles come off a Super Bowl loss and have a loaded team.
Kevin O’Connell’s operation can’t afford to start into the season with a 0-2 record, and they must take care of Tampa Bay at home in Week 1 to prevent a situation similar to 2021 when the team lost against the Bengals and the Cardinals and never managed to get above a .500 record, the season ended with a disappointing 8-9.
Battles for the North
The last two games in 2022 were NFC North matchups. The Vikings played in Green Bay and Chicago. This year, the final three games are within the division, including two home games in Weeks 16 and 17 against the Lions and the Packers and the division showdown in Week 18 in Detroit.
The Lions are the betting favorites to unseat the Vikings, and it might come down to that final game. Detroit invested in their defense, an even worse unit than the Vikings’. Both teams, the Vikings and the Lions, will be carried by their offenses if they want to make a postseason run.
Green Bay in Week 17 shouldn’t be ignored. The Packers still are a talented team, even without Aaron Rodgers under center. They have a good defense, and the strong running game was the calling card on offense in 2022. If new QB Jordan Love can play at a decent level, they might still be in the race late in the year.
No games in the NFL are easy. However, some opponents are more beatable than others. The Vikings have to stack up wins in the middle of the schedule between the tough start and the divisional games at the end.
Packers, Falcons, Saints, Broncos, Bears, and Raiders are all beatable opponents, and the Vikings will face all of them between Weeks 8 and 14. It’s never easy to predict which teams will be improved, no one expected the Vikes to rack up 13 wins last year, but those six teams all missed the postseason in 2022. Even if a couple can get better, the purple team still needs to find a way to win four of those six games, even though it will be harder as only two of them are at home.
Last season, the Vikings had a juggernaut stretch at the same time, facing and beating tough opponents every week. That’s where the team can build some momentum.
It Will Be a Fun Season
No matter if the schedule is hard or not, the season will be a lot of fun for Vikings fans. We will see the team match up with the elite QBs in football. Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Joe Burrow are scheduled to meet the new defense of Brian Flores. Aaron Rodgers is finally gone and won’t play against the Vikings unless they encounter his Jets in the Super Bowl. The two top teams in the NFC, the Eagles, and the 49ers, will also play against the Vikings.
Another wrinkle that will make the season fun is the competitive NFC North. The Packers ran away with the crown three consecutive years, and the Vikings won in 2022. All four champions won 13 games. In 2023, things will be closer. The division championship and the subsequent home playoff game might not be decided before the year’s final game.
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Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt
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