Ranking the most difficult games in the Vikings' 2021 schedule

The Vikings have some interesting matchups on their 17-game slate.
Vikings fans, U.S. Bank Stadium

The 2021 schedule for the Minnesota Vikings was released on Wednesday night and as is tradition, fans are combing through to see which games the Vikings will win and lose on their way to a 9-8 season.

But not all games on the schedule are equal. Throughout the 17-game slate, there will be games that should be a breeze and others that will have factors such as weather, short weeks and time of game.

With the Vikings' schedule official, here's a look at which games will be the most difficult in 2021.

17. 10/10 vs. Detroit (12 p.m.)
16. 12/5 at Detroit (12 p.m.)

While the rest of the NFC North has improved this offseason the Lions have gone in the opposite direction. Matthew Stafford has moved onto Los Angeles and the Lions have wiped the slate clean after the Matt Patricia era. With the Lions years away from contention, these two games should be money in the bank.

15. 10/17 at Carolina (12 p.m.)

One of the most memorable moments of last season was a comeback victory over the Panthers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Although the Vikings had several opportunities to lose the game, this year's matchup could be easier despite going on the road against Sam Darnold.

14. 12/26 vs. LA Rams (12 p.m.)

While the Rams upgraded at quarterback by acquiring Stafford, Mike Zimmer has had plenty of success over the former Lions quarterback. Since Zimmer took over in 2014, Stafford has gone 5-8 against the Vikings including losses in his last six games. WIth the Rams focused on running the ball, the Vikings revamped front seven should be up to the ask of keeping Cam Akers in check.

13. 9/12 at Cincinnati (12 p.m.)

Cincinnati has dynamic players at the skill positions including first-round pick Ja'Marr Chase and if the Vikings can't pressure Burrow, it could be a long day in the season opener.

12. 9/19 at Arizona (3:05 p.m.)

The Vikings are dipping into dangerous territory with a late afternoon game and that's not accounting for Arizona's explosive offense. The Cardinals ranked 6th in total offense this season and the matchup between new Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson and DeAndre Hopkins will be must-see TV in the desert.

11. 1/9 vs. Chicago (12 p.m.)

This could be a game that could move up or down the list depending on what happens in Chicago this season. A likely scenario has Justin Fields under center for this game which should terrify the Vikings. With the added motivation of not having the Vikings trade up in the draft, the Bears have won five of the past six meetings which makes Chicago a potential trap game.

10. 11/10 at LA Chargers (3:05 p.m.)

The last time the Vikings visited the Chargers, a sea of purple descended upon Carson, Calif. With the Chargers moving into SoFi Stadium, there's a chance that the stands could be more balanced but this could still feel like a home game.

9. 11/28 at San Francisco (3:25 p.m.)

A trip to Santa Clara will be the Vikings' third west coast game in two weeks. Although they'll have a home game against the Packers the previous week, the Vikings will have to go back out west to face a 49ers team that could be better than they were a year ago.

8. 11/21 vs. Green Bay (12 p.m.)

This ranking assumes that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers make up between now and the start of the season. If Rodgers is on the roster, this will be a critical divisional matchup in the NFC North. If not, either Jordan Love or new signee Blake Bortles will hope to keep the Packers afloat.

7. 10/3 vs. Cleveland (12 p.m.)

Kevin Stefanski returns to Minnesota with a Browns team that has high expectations. With the Vegas over/under set at 10, Stefanski could be ready to show why Minnesota should have hired him as head coach following the 2019 season.

6. 11/07 at Baltimore (12 p.m.)

As part of another history lesson, the Vikings' last trip to Baltimore resulted in 38 points in the final 2:07. Hopefully, the Vikings won't play in a snowstorm but they'll have to deal with Lamar Jackson.

5. 12/20 at Chicago (7:15 p.m., MNF)

Cousins' issues in primetime will be on full display but the toughest test will be a trip to Chicago. Weird things always seem to happen at Soldier Field and with the possibility of a better Bears team, this could be a key divisional matchup.

4. 10/31 vs. Dallas (7:20 p.m., SNF)

Last season's matchup with the Cowboys was scary as the Vikings only generated four pressures against Andy Dalton. If they do the same thing against Dak Prescott, this could have all the makings of a bad slasher flick.

3. 12/9 vs. Pittsburgh (7:20 p.m., TNF)

The Vikings' lone Thursday game will be a slobber knocker. The Steelers will get the Vikings on a short week meaning they will be in for a physical affair. The effectiveness of Ben Roethlisberger will be a major question but the Vikings better be ready for a fight.

2. 1/2 at Green Bay (7:20 p.m., SNF)

For the first time since 2017, the Vikings will play a cold-weather game at Lambeau Field. After Adam Thielen's comments about the home of the Packers, it could be a rowdy environment unless Rodgers' potential departure has driven Green Bay into the ground.

1. 9/26 vs. Seattle (3:25 p.m.)

The Vikings will host Seattle for the first time since 2015 but that doesn't mean it will be a guaranteed win. The last time the Seahawks were in Minnesota resulted in Blair Walsh's "Shank at The Bank" but will give the Vikings a chance to exorcise some demons.

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