Last season, the Minnesota Vikings were blessed with the good fortunes of the schedule gods. Seeing a schedule that brought six below-.500 teams in their first eight games, the Vikings raced out to a 6-2 start and enjoyed three of their final four games at home (including a pseudo home game in Los Angeles) to close out the season to secure a playoff spot.
But much like Mike Zimmer's tenure in Minnesota, one year's success brings another year's tougher schedule. The Vikings will open up at home for the first time in franchise history against the Packers, but fall into a much tougher slate thanks to a second-place finish in the NFC North.
So what are some things to take note about the early season schedule and where will we see if the Vikings are able to stay afloat or should plan for an early season exit?
A fast start will be extremely tough
Getting off to a fast start is always of importance in the NFL, but the Vikings will have their hands full from the start of the 2020 season. With a roster that currently includes 15 rookies, the Vikings will have to hit the ground running since they will not be able to get on a field during virtual OTAs and minicamp.
This will put Minnesota behind the eight-ball entering a crucial Week 1 matchup with the Packers. Last season, Green Bay took advantage of a Vikings team finding its footing and Minnesota wound up trying to make up for the early season loss the rest of the year.
A similar defeat would really put Minnesota in a hole as it heads on the road for three of their first five games. Four of those games will also be against teams that made the playoffs last season.
Are more primetime horrors ahead?
One of the biggest national narratives is that Kirk Cousins can't win in primetime. While he partially debunked that theory with two primetime wins last season, the schedule makers didn't put the Vikings in as favorable primetime conditions as they did last year.
The NFL's recent obsession with throwing the Vikings in a primetime game in Seattle continues with a Week 5 Sunday Night game in the Emerald City and the Vikings go to their house of horrors in Week 10 with a Monday Night Football matchup in Chicago.
For those keeping score at home, Cousins is 7-15 in primetime games including an 0-9 career mark on Monday Night Football. Thankfully, these are the only two primetime games on the slate, but that could change if a late-season matchup is flexed.
More road games down the stretch
Last year's schedule saw the Vikings get some serious home cooking at the end, but this year will be a much different story with three of the final four games on the road.
A Week 14 matchup with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is intimidating enough but could get worse with the potential to be flexed. The Vikings then return home to face a Bears team they haven't defeated since Week 17 of the 2017 season before heading to New Orleans for a Christmas afternoon showdown with the Saints.
Although the Vikings seem to get a break with the normally submissive Detroit Lions in Week 17, nothing seems to be a given as they'll look to find their way into a loaded NFC playoff picture.