NFL Finally Flips Script at End of Vikings Schedule

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It was stale, and everyone felt it.

Before the 2023 NFL schedule was released, the Minnesota Vikings played the Chicago Bears in the season’s final game in six of the last seven years. It was just a tradition — a bland one that usually meant nothing because one team was bad and the other was not (or vice versa).

NFL Finally Flips Script at End of Vikings Schedule

This year, the Vikings will travel to Detroit for a date with the hungry Lions to end the regular season — not at home or away against the Bears. And Dan Campbell’s team will likely be better than Chicago, but that doesn’t faze Vikings fans. Hosting the Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium or traveling to Soldier Field to wrap up a season was downright musty. Change was needed, and it arrived.

NFL Finally Flips
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In 2022 — well, the 2022 season and 2023 on the calendar — the Vikings visited Chicago for a Week 18 win where starters were rested for the entire second half. Minnesota’s win over the Bears propelled Chicago to the first overall pick in the draft, a commodity it traded to the Carolina Panthers. And the Vikings gained a smidgen of momentum — or at least it felt like it at the time — heading into the playoffs.

Amid the last seven seasons, that 2018 Vikings-Bears end-of-season matchup was really the only contest between the teams that meant anything. That particular game was a Bears springboard to the postseason and a season-ender for the Vikings. Aside from the 2018 tryst, Vikings-Bears to punctuate a regular season is mostly meaningless.

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Here’s the Vikings full schedule:

  • 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)

If the NFL body politic is correct, the Lions represent a substantial challenge, especially at Ford Field. Detroit is the odds-on favorite to win the NFC North, and if it does, it’ll mark the first such achievement by the Lions in 30 years. Of course, sportsbooks and pundits could be wrong, and Detroit could be a mediocre team, but Jared Goff and Co. are all the rage right now to take down the Vikings, Bears, and Packers.

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The Vikings last visited the Lions to end a season in 2020. That game was — you guessed it — meaningless as the Vikings were eliminated from playoff contention. It was the game when Kyle Rudolph ripped an end-of-half Hail Mary out of the sky heading into halftime.

But these Lions should be different than the 2020 version while Minnesota seeks back-to-back division crowns for the first time since 2008-2009.

No matter what happens, though, at Detroit on January 7th, count your lucky stars that the vanilla and irrelevant final-game-of-the-season madness against the Bears is over. Well, it’s done for a year. Perhaps it’s a pause.

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).

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