Minnesota Vikings schedule takeaways:
- The Vikings face the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the NFL season.
- Their Week 7 bye is set between a road game against the Carolina Panthers and a home matchup versus the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football (Nov. 28 and Dec. 12).
- Sportsnaut predicts the Vikings will end the season with an 8-9 record, missing the playoffs by one game.
The Minnesota Vikings’ full 2021 schedule is out, and to return to the playoffs after missing out last season, they’ll need a much faster start.
A turnover-plagued beginning to the 2020 campaign doomed Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, as Minnesota lost five of six before its bye week. However, the team rebounded to finish 7-9 overall, and Cousins played much better as the year went on.
Can the Vikings bounce back and be a factor in the NFC North? Let’s look at their full 17-game schedule and make predictions for each game to see how they might stack up in 2021.
Minnesota Vikings schedule predictions, roster outlook
Let’s take a look at the team’s complete 2021 schedule and make predictions for each game.
Vikings roster outlook
All our predictions are based on the Vikings keeping and starting these key players:
- QB – Kirk Cousins
- RB – Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison
- WR – Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson
- TE – Irv Smith Jr., Tyler Conklin
- Defense – Vikings ranked No. 18 this week
Yet another new offensive coordinator is taking over in Minnesota in Klint Kubiak. While there will be the same foundation in place, it’s still an adjustment for Cousins and the offense. The Vikings’ upside depends more on how much rookies Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis upgrade their troubled offensive line than their skill position players.
Minnesota Vikings 2021 preseason schedule
|Saturday, Aug. 14||vs. Denver Broncos||4:00 PM||FOX 9|
|Saturday, Aug. 21||vs. Indianapolis Colts||8:00 PM||FOX 9|
|Friday, Aug. 27||@ Kansas City Chiefs||8:00 PM||FOX 9|
This season the NFL is lowering the amount of preseason games to three per team, and instead expanding the regular season to 17 games, rather than the traditional 16 games.
Week 1 – @ Cincinnati Bengals
|Sunday, Sept. 12||1:00 PM||FOX|
- Spread: Vikings -3.5 (via DraftKings)
- Moneyline: Vikings -180; Bengals +145
- Over/Under: 48
Joe Burrow gets his former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase to join an already-talented receiving corps led by Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. That should lead to a fair amount of points for the visitors, but Vikings tailback Dalvin Cook should be able to run all over the Bengals to help Minnesota to a Week 1 win.
- Week 1 prediction: Vikings 35, Bengals 31
Week 2 – @ Arizona Cardinals
|Sunday, Sept. 19||4:05 PM||FOX|
The more you look at the Cardinals’ schedule, the more likely it seems that they’ll be able to do some serious damage, at least outside of the NFC West. Quarterback Kyler Murray is such an X-factor with his elite rushing ability, and Arizona’s improved front seven has the means to wreak havoc on a Vikings offensive line that’ll depend heavily on two rookies in Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis.
- Week 2 prediction: Cardinals 38, Vikings 28
Week 3 – vs. Seattle Seahawks
|Sunday, Sept. 26||4:25 PM||FOX|
There’s a lot of discord in Seattle surrounding Russell Wilson, who basically requested a trade during the offseason. Thus, banding together for a tough road trip isn’t something the Seahawks feel destined to do on a regular basis. The Vikings’ smashmouth rushing attack should overwhelm their foe.
- Week 3 prediction: Vikings 27, Seahawks 20
Week 4 – vs. Cleveland Browns
|Sunday, Oct. 3||1:00 PM||CBS|
Perhaps no one made as many upgrades on defense as the Browns did this offseason. They’re so much better than the Vikings on that side of the ball, really, at every level, and longtime Minnesota assistant Kevin Stefanski is now the reigning Coach of the Year in Cleveland. Not much reason for hope for the Vikings despite the home-field edge.
- Week 4 prediction: Browns 28, Vikings 17
Week 5 – vs. Detroit Lions
|Sunday, Oct. 10||1:00 PM||FOX|
It’s probably going to be a roller-coaster season for Vikings fans, so squaring off with the lowly Lions at home should serve as a high point. Minnesota will be able to roll up points on Detroit at relative will.
- Week 5 prediction: Vikings 42, Lions 10
Week 6 – @ Carolina Panthers
|Sunday, Oct. 17||1:00 PM||FOX|
It’s hard to separate these two teams, because they’re so evenly matched. That should tilt the outcome in the hosts’ favor, but this could well be the contest that makes or breaks Minnesota’s playoff hopes. Panthers signal-caller Sam Darnold is such an unknown, but the assumption here is that his supporting cast, led by Christian McCaffrey, will drive Carolina to a hard-fought “W.”
- Week 6 prediction: Panthers 31, Vikings 27
WEEK 7 BYE
Week 8 – vs. Dallas Cowboys (SNF)
|Sunday, Oct. 31||8:20 PM||NBC|
The Cowboys are going to see their fair share of shootouts in 2021, because they haven’t done enough to address their sieve of a defense. Minnesota should be able to get some momentum with its running game and ultimately overwhelm Dallas.
- Week 8 prediction: Vikings 41, Cowboys 34
Week 9 – @ Baltimore Ravens
|Sunday, Nov. 7||1:00 PM||FOX|
Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks is one of the few who could hold his own as a QB spy on Ravens star Lamar Jackson. The bigger concern here is the exotic looks the Ravens present on defense on an annual basis. As long as Baltimore keeps Dalvin Cook in relative check, this is likely to be a road defeat for Minnesota.
- Week 9 prediction: Ravens 27, Vikings 17
Week 10 – @ Los Angeles Chargers
|Sunday, Nov. 14||4:05 PM||FOX|
Justin Herbert was historically good as a rookie QB last season behind an awful offensive line. Now, the Chargers are much better up front, already have a strong defense and got a new head coach in Brandon Staley to help them take that next step. Meanwhile, the Vikes feel like a team stuck in relative neutral under Mike Zimmer. Such circumstances don’t bode well for the away team.
- Week 10 prediction: Chargers 34, Vikings 30
Week 11 – vs. Green Bay Packers
|Sunday, Nov. 21||1:00 PM||FOX|
Because the Aaron Rodgers situation has yet to be resolved — and even if he does stay, there figures to be an ongoing soap opera in Green Bay — we’ll give the Vikings the benefit of the doubt that they can stick it to the Packers’ vulnerable defense enough to earn a season split.
Week 11 prediction: Vikings 37, Packers 35
Week 12 – @ San Francisco 49ers
|Sunday, Nov. 28||4:25 PM||FOX|
San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan has been enamored of Cousins for many years. Captain Kirk probably wishes he could play for the 49ers, but that’s no longer possible. Whether it’s rookie Trey Lance or incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo getting the start under center for Shanahan, the Niners should be able to pull this one out.
- Week 12 prediction: 49ers 31, Vikings 24
Week 13 – @ Detroit Lions
|Sunday, Dec. 5||1:00 PM||CBS|
It’s pretty well-known that the Lions have a bottom-five roster. They’d need an unfathomable amount of young players to rise to the occasion in order to have a chance at being competitive in most games, especially with Jared Goff at quarterback. The Vikings are too much for Detroit, even at Ford Field.
- Week 13 prediction: Vikings 42, Lions 21
Week 14 – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (TNF)
|Thursday, Dec. 9||8:20 PM||FOX, NFLN|
This might be Ben Roethlisberger‘s last year as Pittsburgh’s quarterback. Big Ben fell apart at the end of 2020, and unless he has a miraculous bounce-back from that, Minnesota should be able to get this one at home.
- Week 14 prediction: Vikings 17, Steelers 13
Week 15 – @ Chicago Bears (MNF)
|Monday, Dec. 20||8:15 PM||ESPN|
Neither of the meetings between these NFC North rivals should be high-scoring. That is, unless Bears rookie QB Justin Fields balls out right away, and Cousins winds up piling on the garbage time stats. More realistically, this should be a closely contested affair in the WIndy City, with the Bears defense forcing multiple takeaways to get the win.
- Week 15 prediction: Bears 24, Vikings 16
Week 16 – vs. Los Angeles Rams
|Sunday, Dec. 26||1:00 PM||FOX|
Minnesota’s interior offensive line is going to have its hands full with Aaron Donald. Plus, All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey can take away Vikings young stud receiver Justin Jefferson if he plays like he’s capable of. Combine that with the Rams’ upgraded passing game led by Matthew Stafford, and none of it plays well for Minnesota.
- Week 16 prediction: Rams 42, Vikings 20
Week 17 – @ Green Bay Packers (SNF)
|Sunday, Jan. 2||8:20 PM||NBC|
Lambeau Field becomes a much easier place to play if Aaron Rodgers isn’t the quarterback for Green Bay. Assuming the Packers patch up their differences with the reigning NFL MVP, though, they should have little trouble crushing Minnesota at home.
- Week 17 prediction: Packers 41, Vikings 23
Week 18 – vs. Chicago Bears
|Sunday, Jan. 9||1:00 PM||FOX|
Bears pass-rusher Khalil Mack is going to be difficult for the Vikings’ youthful offensive line to neutralize. That’s why it’s imperative for Minnesota to stay committed to the run and hit some shot plays down the field with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Look for the Purple and Gold to will their way to a divisional victory here.
- Week 18 prediction: Vikings 29, Bears 27