The NFL regular season is only three months away. The excitement of the fans continues to rise.
Given it is only a 16 game schedule, every game is very crucial but here are the five biggest games on the Minnesota Vikings schedule:
-Week Four @Los Angeles Rams (9/27)
Like the Vikings, the Rams have high aspirations heading into the season.
They showed some nice improvement last year with youngsters Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. This offseason they loaded up the defense with Ndamakung Suh and cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. They also added wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
This will be a nice early test for both teams.
Week Five @Philadelphia Eagles (10/7)
The Vikings season ended in very disappointing fashion to the Eagles in the NFC Title Game, losing 38-7.
This game will be one of the toughest ones on the schedule and could be a loss, but will be a good early test for the Vikings. Like the Rams game, this game could also play a huge role in the race for home field advantage. If all three teams stay healthy, they have a great chance to be in the mix.
Week Nine vs Detroit Lions (11/4)
The Vikings have lost both times to the Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Both were very winnable games.
They won last year in Detroit, but there are no guarantees they will again this year. A sweep of course will be much better, but even if they do not win in Detroit again, they need to beat them at home.
The Lions should once again be in the playoff race.
Week 11 @Chicago Bears (11/18)
Winning at Soldier Field is never easy for the Vikings. Though they won there last year and in 2015, the last two times they won there before that were in 2007 and 2000. Their past three wins there were by three points.
Though last year they won an ugly one in Chicago, it was still a huge one and really helped them in the playoff standings the rest of the way.
Week 12 vs Green Bay Packers (11/25)
The good ole Border Battle. Every time these two teams face each other it’s huge. Both for the teams and the fans.
Last season the Vikings swept the Packers for the first time since 2009. Aaron Rodgers missed most of the first meeting and all of the second. If he plays in both matchups it will be very tough to sweep them again, but they still would have a great shot at splitting the series. This is a home game and the Vikings need to win this game. If Rodgers stays healthy the Packers will be in the playoff mix again, which would make this game that much bigger. They could also very well be the Vikings biggest competition in the race for the division.
The Vikings have won both games at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Packers. Divisional games are always huge, especially at home. Defend homefield.
There are some other key games too. Obviously every division game is crucial, but some of the others on the schedule is week eight at home against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints should also be in the playoff mix again and this of course will be the first meeting between these two teams since the thrilling finish in the playoffs last season. One of the best finishes in NFL history.
Week 13 at New England will also be a nice test for this team. The Vikings last beat the Patriots was in 2000 (Tom Brady was a rookie and did not play). Every year we hear some people saying the Patriots could be on the decline, but every year they find a way to contend for the Super Bowl.
There is also week one, which is at U.S. Bank Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers. Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo will also have their first shot at proving they are worth being the second and third highest paid players in the league behind Matt Ryan. Both teams made huge investments in their quarterbacks. Will they pay off?
This roster is once again loaded and adding Cousins and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson gives them an even better roster on paper. They also are bringing back every key piece from last season. They lost Case Keenum, but Cousins will be an upgrade. They also signed wide receiver Kendall Wright, who could be a very good no.3 behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
The schedule is tougher this year, so going 13-3 again will be a very difficult task, but if this team can stay healthy for the most part and get solid contributions from their free agent signees and draft picks, they have a good shot at going to the Super Bowl. The Eagles should be the team to beat in the NFC again until someone beats them. Adding defensive end Michael Bennett was a good signing for them too. Every season is always different and unpredictable though.
As always this will be a very interesting NFL season.