Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

New general manager, new head coach, some new players ... different results? We break down the Minnesota Vikings' 17-game schedule in 2022 and predict the result of each contest.

Week 1, Sunday, Sept. 11, 3:25 p.m. vs. Green Bay Packers

Series: Packers lead 64-56-3

Last matchup: Packers 37, Vikings 10 (2021)

Skinny: Kirk Cousins went tit for tat with Aaron Rodgers in Minnesota’s 34-31 November triumph last season, a track race of a football game that featured four scoring drives in the fourth quarter. Sean Mannion didn’t fare nearly as well against Packers starters for a half in early January. We forewarn taking the under on this famous rivalry when it resumes because of Green Bay’s revamped, Davante Adams-less passing attack and Minnesota’s improved secondary. Then again, a Cousins-Rodgers tilt equals action. We’re giving the Vikings the edge in Week 1 because their offense has fewer permutations.

Our pick: Win (1-0)

Week 2, Monday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m., at Philadelphia Eagles

Series: Vikings lead 15-14

Last matchup: Vikings 38, Eagles 20 (2019)

Skinny: How much better is the Philadelphia Eagles offense, which last season led the league in rushing yards and touchdowns on the ground, and had the third-fewest turnovers? What about its defense – a top-10 unit in terms of yards allowed but that finished in the bottom five in takeaways? The sometimes ghastly Eagles passing game is practically guaranteed to be better with Titans transplant A.J. Brown. Philadelphia should be livelier on defense, as well, with Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, an intimidating front-seven tandem straight out of national champion Georgia, and free-agent gamble Haason Reddick. All three will be asked to help elevate an area that culled 29 sacks a year ago, the second fewest in the NFL, despite a close-to-average pressure rate of 24%. The Eagles host the Vikings on Monday Night Football. Buckle up.

Our pick: Loss (1-1)

Week 3, Sunday, Sept. 25, 12 p.m. vs. Detroit Lions

Series: Vikings lead 79-40-2

Last matchup: Lions 29, Vikings 27 (2021)

Skinny: The Lions might not be recognizable in 2022. They’ve built around Amon-Ra St. Brown, who had a sensational second half as a rookie, by adding veteran D.J. Chark in free agency and college superstar Jameson Williams in the draft. A lot like Minnesota last season, Detroit got used to playing in close games – the Vikings, of course, are less accustomed than the Lions to losing. That conjures the biggest question mark for Detroit – can it get over the hump? Minnesota has taken 8 of 10 matchups since 2017.

Our pick: Win (2-1)

Week 4, Sunday, Oct. 2, 8:30 a.m., at New Orleans Saints (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium)

Series: Vikings lead 23-13

Last matchup: Saints 52, Vikings 33 (2020)

Skinny: Thinking they’re on the cusp of a return to the playoffs and Lombardi run, the Saints were aggressive in the draft, trading a 2023 first-round pick to move up in the first round then sacrificing their third- and fourth-round picks to jump again and select Chris Olave at No. 11 overall. The former Buckeye buffs a receiving corps that missed Michael Thomas in 2021 and counted on former undrafted free agent Marquez Callaway for its success down the field. New Orleans might be a player, again, in the NFC if Jameis Winston expands on his retooled 5-2 start from last year. One of these teams will suffer its first loss overseas. The Saints and Vikes are each 2-0 in London.

Our pick: Win (3-1)

Week 5, Sunday, Oct. 9, 12 p.m., vs. Chicago Bears

Series: Vikings lead 63-57-2

Last matchup: Vikings 31, Bears 17 (2021)

Skinny: Chicago turned the ball over 29 times in 2021, the second-highest total in the NFL. Its passing offense finished third worst in terms of yards, an expected outcome after Justin Fields made his starting debut in Week 3 and didn’t develop momentum or much of a rhythm leading a lackadaisical cast. Defensively, the Bears last season allowed the third-most touchdowns through the air, a stat that for the most part negated an otherwise tolerable secondary that gave up the third-fewest passing yards. Worse than touchdowns against or turnovers on offense, Chicago’s defense managed just 16 takeaways. The past 10 games of this NFC North rivalry have been split evenly – but the Vikes have won 3 of the last 5.

Our pick: Win (4-1)

Week 6, Sunday, Oct. 16, 12 p.m., at Miami Dolphins

Series: Dolphins lead 8-5

Last matchup: Vikings 41, Dolphins 17 (2018)

Skinny: Without having played a down together, it’s safe to call the new-look Dolphins offense the fastest in the NFL. Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Cedrick Wilson, Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds can blur the white lines and ideally will feast in a Mike McDaniel-harmonized game plan. Miami didn’t merely improve its speed, it brought out the Brinks truck to solidify the left side of its line with tackle Terron Armstead, formerly of the Saints, and ex-Cowboys guard Connor Williams. All riches for Tua Tagovailoa.

Our pick: Loss (4-2)

Week 8, Sunday, Oct. 30, 12 p.m., vs. Arizona Cardinals

Series: Vikings lead 17-12

Last matchup: Cardinals 34, Vikings 33 (2021)

Skinny: Deprived of DeAndre Hopkins, serving a suspension for the first six games of the season, Arizona will lean on the trio of Marquise Brown, A.J. Green and a more well-versed Rondale Moore in the interim to stay competitive in the passing game – which, frankly, seems light years stronger than the threesome (Green, Moore and Christian Kirk) that the Cardinals put to work when Hopkins sat out seven contests last season due to injury. Arizona sputtered to an 11-6 record in 2021 after winning eight of its first nine games. It added depth at a few spots in the draft – namely at tight end and off the edge – but has a hill to climb in the NFC West. Welp. Scrap most of the above – Minnesota didn’t get lucky – because Hopkins will be available by Halloween eve. The Vikings should be rested off their bye … as will the Cardinals coming off an extended break following a Thursday night affair in Week 7. Hopkins is the ultimate difference-maker.

Our pick: Loss (4-3)

Week 9, Sunday, Nov. 6, at Washington Commanders

Series: Vikings lead 14-13

Last matchup: Vikings 19, Washington 9 (2019)

Skinny: Quarterback A completed 65% of his throws in 2021 for 3,419 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also rushed for 313 yards (5.2 Y/A) and another score. Quarterback B posted a 62.4% completion rate with 3,563 yards through the air – and another 215 on the ground (3.8 Y/A) – and 28 total touchdowns (27 passing) against seven interceptions. The former fumbled seven times, the latter eight. Quarterback B is former Colt and new Commanders leading man Carson Wentz. The other player is Taylor Heinicke, who was demoted to second string when Washington traded for Wentz. What’s our angle? Ron Rivera has a quarterback dilemma on his hands – long before the 2022 season kicks off. Turnovers – mainly fumbles – killed Wentz’s career in Philadelphia. His play was conservative, to the point where it got boring … detrimental in its own right, in his lone season in Indianapolis. Heinicke, on the other hand, has never feared from cutting it loose, a blessing and a curse in the Not-For-Long league. Predicting which quarterback Minnesota faces Week 9 is aimless because a controversy is brewing.

Our pick: Win (5-3)

Week 10, Sunday, Nov. 13, 12 p.m., at Buffalo Bills

Series: Vikings lead 8-6

Last matchup: Bills 27, Vikings 6 (2018)

Skinny: The reigning AFC East champion Bills were fifth last season in total offense. Josh Allen wasn’t as efficient as he was in 2020 when he finished second on the AP MVP ballot, but still threw for 4,407 passing yards and 36 touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 763 and six more scores. Buffalo replaced Cole Beasley with Jamison Crowder and got stronger on offense in the draft, adding receiver Khalil Shakir and receiving-threat running back James Cook. Minnesota’s last win in this limited series came in 2010.

Our pick: Loss (5-4)

Week 11, Sunday, Nov. 20, 3:25 p.m., vs. Dallas Cowboys

Series: Cowboys lead 18-15

Last matchup: Cowboys 20, Vikings 16 (2021)

Skinny: Dak Prescott soared to pre-injury form last season, leading the league’s No. 1 offense with 4,595 yards (146 rushing) and 38 total touchdowns. Embarrassingly, on the Vikings’ behalf, Prescott wasn’t active in the Week 8 Halloween night clash. Minnesota was thwarted instead by backup Cooper Rush and a Cowboys defense that led the NFL with 34 takeaways – but incredibly didn’t gather any vs. the Vikings. The next installment of this series, dominated by Dallas recently, should be littered with points.

Our pick: Loss (5-5)

Week 12, Thursday, Nov. 24, 7:20 p.m., vs. New England Patriots

Series: Patriots lead 9-4

Last matchup: Patriots 24, Vikings 10 (2018)

Skinny: Mac Jones has some shiny new toys – DeVante Parker and rookie Tyquan Thornton – and New England added another running back to its stable, Pierre Strong Jr., to wear down opposing defenses. The offensive additions, including plug-and-play guard Cole Strange, will help, but Jones may need another year or two in his development to be ready to bring the Patriots back to the forefront of the NFL. New England ranked in the top 10 in rushing offense and top 15 in passing offense last season and fared even better defensively – it gave up the fourth-fewest yards and tied for the third-most takeaways – but did say farewell to cornerback J.C. Jackson, who intercepted a league-high 17 passes since 2020.

A belly stuffed with turkey and gravy and a Vikings win Thanksgiving night would be a season highlight.

Our pick: Win (6-5)

Week 13, Sunday, Dec. 4, 12 p.m., vs. New York Jets

Series: Jets lead 8-3

Last matchup: Vikings 37, Jets 17 (2018)

Skinny: The Jets got an infusion of starter-level talent in the draft, the most important being top cornerback-receiver duo Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Garrett Wilson. New York’s third and fourth overall choices, Jermaine Johnson (No. 26) and Breece Hall (No. 36), are equally ready to lift the club from oblivion. The influx of skill, particularly at skill positions, fast tracks the Jets to an entertaining on-field product. They needed it after ranking 28th in points scored and dead last in points allowed in 2021.

Our pick: Win (7-5)

Week 14, Sunday, Dec. 11, 12 p.m., at Detroit Lions

Series: Vikings lead 79-40-2

Last matchup: Lions 29, Vikings 27 (2021)

Skinny: Jared Goff was just OK in his first year quarterbacking the Lions. He protected the football – his 17 turnovers (nine fumbles) were his fewest since committing 15 in his first Pro Bowl season (2017) – but also played it safe as his 6.6 yards gained per pass attempt was the lowest mark since his rookie year. Detroit showed its devotion to Goff in the draft, bypassing quarterbacks twice in the first round. That loyalty could go a long way to resurrecting the confidence of a guy only four seasons removed from the Super Bowl. Perhaps, it more so signaled a weak quarterback class. We’ll know for certain in April 2023.

Our pick: Win (8-5)

Week 15, Date & Time TBD, vs. Indianapolis Colts

Series: Colts lead 18-7-1

Last matchup: Colts 28, Vikings 11 (2020)

Skinny: The good: Eh. The bad: Indianapolis was a stinking loss to Jacksonville away from making the playoffs last season and got a heckuva lot better in March and April, adding MVP quarterback Matt Ryan, high-upside rookies Alec Pierce and Bernhard Raimann and a plethora of studs on defense, including 2019 AP Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore and sack artist Yannick Ngakoue. The ugly: In six meetings since the turn of the century, Minnesota is winless and has been outscored 165-90.

Our pick: Loss (8-6)

Week 16, Saturday, Dec. 24, 12 p.m., vs. New York Giants

Series: Vikings lead 17-12

Last matchup: Vikings 28, Giants 10 (2019)

Skinny: Daniel Jones was sacked four times, twice by Danielle Hunter, in his rookie-year start vs. the Vikings. Since then, the former No. 6 overall pick has routinely been battered, dropped on 96 occasions – for reference, no quarterback with fewer games played than Jones (38) over the past three seasons has been sacked more often. Of all the things uncertain regarding the 2022 Giants, our curiosity is piqued by New York’s possibly rehabilitated protection. Evan Neal is a gargantuan upgrade at right tackle – but the greatest pressure, in our eyes, falls on 2020 fourth-overall pick Andrew Thomas to make a huge Year 3 leap.

Our pick: Win (9-6)

Week 17, Sunday, Jan. 1, 3:25 p.m., at Green Bay Packers

Series: Packers lead 64-56-3

Last matchup: Packers 37, Vikings 10 (2021)

Skinny: Does Minnesota’s defense hold the upper hand over Green Bay’s offense? We’d love to say yes post draft and a whirlwind of dealings. But the answer probably is no. The Vikings do boast a vastly improved secondary, on paper, with Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr. fusing with Harrison Smith, Patrick Peterson and youngsters Camryn Bynum and Cameron Danztler. The Packers bring to the table a washed up – sorry, Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb – and inexperienced receiving corps. Ultimately, Green Bay could deploy a double dose of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon and still finish in the top 10 in total offense. The Packers, for what it’s worth, have won 4 of 6 dating to 2019 after not winning since 2016. After a bitter Week 1 loss, Rodgers and Co. exact their revenge in freezing conditions at Lambeau Field.

Our pick: Loss (9-7)

Week 18, Saturday, Jan. 7 OR Sunday, Jan. 8, Time TBD, at Chicago Bears

Series: Vikings lead 63-57-2

Last matchup: Vikings 31, Bears 17 (2021)

Skinny: Fields was held out of last year’s regular-season finale in Minnesota but arguably was at his best in the Week 15 meeting when he kept the Bears within striking distance with 320 total yards (35 rushing). Chicago reinforced its defense with its first two picks in the draft, to the dismay of its fans, but the roster on offense in Year 2 for Fields, under new head coach Matt Eberflus, does look a bit different. The Bears signed receivers Equanimeous St. Brown and Byron Pringle, formerly of the Packers and Chiefs, in free agency and added mystifying speedster Velus Jones Jr. in the draft. Overall, a minor improvement. If Minnesota’s playoff quest comes down to the wire, it at least got a favorable Week 18 draw. Righteous.

Our pick: Win (10-7)

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