EAGAN, Minn. — Mark your calendars, the Minnesota Vikings will kick off their 2021-22 season Sept. 12 on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer spent six seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Bengals before coming to Minnesota. It will be his first regular-season game against his former team since taking over as the Vikings' head coach in 2014.
The NFL announced the remaining schedule Wednesday night, with the Vikings' first home game coming on Sept. 26 against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Vikings fell short of the playoffs last season, finishing the year third in the division with a 7-9 record. This year, Minnesota will have to face seven teams that qualified for the playoffs last season, including two division rivals who they will play twice.
Within the division, the Vikings will host the Detroit Lions on Oct. 10, the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 21 and the Chicago Bears on Jan. 9 – the final game of the regular season. Minnesota's road divisional games will be Dec. 5 in Detroit, Dec. 20 in Chicago and Jan. 2 in Green Bay. Three of the last four games in the season will be against division rivals.
Outside of the six NFC North divisional games, Minnesota will play the other teams in the Bengals' division, the AFC North. This will include home games against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 3 and Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 9, as well as a road game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 7. The Browns, Steelers and Ravens all made the playoffs last season.
Due to the NFL's addition of a 17th regular-season game for all teams, the Vikings will also play on the road against the Los Angeles Charges on Nov. 14 in their new $5 billion stadium – SoFi Stadium.
In the NFC, outside of their divisional opponents, Minnesota will play the NFC West, which include the Seattle Seahawks in their home opener on Sept. 26 and the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 26 – both qualified for the playoffs last year. The Vikings will be on the road against the Arizona Cardinals Sept. 19 and the San Francisco 49ers Nov. 28.
The remaining games will be a road game against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 17 and a home game against the Dallas Cowboys on Halloween.
Here's a breakdown of each week's matchup:
Sunday, Sept. 12 at Cincinnati, Noon
This isn’t a very grand opening to the season as the Bengals were just 4-11-1 last year. Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson has plenty to be excited about though as this is his first game against Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow. They were undefeated in college just two years ago with LSU and Burrow earned the Heisman Trophy that season.
Sunday, Sept. 19 at Arizona, 3:05 p.m.
This will be a heated matchup and not just because Minnesota is going to Arizona in September. Newly acquired cornerback Patrick Peterson will be back on familiar turf as he played for the Cardinals for the first ten seasons of his career.
Sunday, Sept. .26 vs. Seattle, 3:25 p.m.
At least this game is not in Seattle. The Vikings lost to the Seahawks on the road in 2018, 2019 and last season and will likely welcome back fans for their first home game of the season.
Sunday, Oct. 3 vs. Cleveland, Noon
The Browns made the playoffs for the first time in forever last season under head coach Kevin Stefanski. Vikings fans are both happy and disappointed about that resurgence. He makes his return to Minnesota where he was an assistant since 2006.
Sunday, Oct. 10 vs. Detroit, Noon
The new-look Lions will be the first NFC North opponent for the Vikings this season. Dan Campbell takes over in Detroit as their head coach.
Sunday, Oct. 17 at Carolina, Noon
The Panthers weren’t good last season but then again the Vikings did need a miraculous comeback to beat them. Carolina will be better especially with a healthy Christian McCaffrey and also a new quarterback in Sam Darnold.
Another early bye week for the Vikings. Last year it was beneficial for Minnesota as they were 1-5 at this point and needed to regroup. This is will also be an important time as the rest of the schedule is tough.
Sunday, Oct. 31 vs. Dallas, 7:20 p.m. (SNF)
This is where the season really begins for Minnesota. It’s primetime and the Vikings host the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.
Sunday, Nov. 7 at Baltimore, Noon
With quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens are a Super Bowl contender. Baltimore has also added weapons around the former MVP including former Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman.
Sunday, Nov. 14 at Los Angeles Chargers, 3:05 p.m.
Justin Herbert may have put up some ridiculous numbers as a rookie quarterback for the Chargers last season, but many believe he shouldn’t have won Offensive Rookie of the Year over Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The Vikings also have plenty of fans in L.A. and the could be a home-away-from-home game for Minnesota.
Sunday, Nov. 21 vs. Green Bay, Noon
Unlike last year when they faced off in Week 1, the Vikings will have to wait until just before Thanksgiving to meet up with Green Bay. This is also just the second divisional game of the season and it will be magnified.
Sunday, Nov. 28 at San Francisco, 3:25 p.m.
At this point of the season Trey Lance could be starting for San Francisco. The quarterback from Marshall, Minnesota and the third overall pick in the NFL Draft might face the Vikings on his new home turf.
Sunday, Dec. 5 at Detroit, Noon
Divisional games late in the season are always important and this is no different and with the Lions in rebuild-mode this could be a necessary and critical time for a victory.
Thursday, Dec. 9 vs. Pittsburgh, 7:20 p.m. (TNF)
Alvin Kamara spoiled the Vikings Thursday night game last season as the Saints running back scored six rushing touchdowns. The Steelers are also always in contention in the AFC North and will be a tough matchup on a short week.
Monday, Dec. 20 at Chicago, 7:15 p.m.
Facing the Bears twice in the last four weeks can be either good or bad. Chicago traded up to snag quarterback Justin Fields in the NFL Draft and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him starting by this point of the year. Playing at Soldier Field in late December also adds a potential wildcard for snow or cold weather to be a factor.
Sunday, Dec. 26 vs Los Angeles Rams, Noon
It’ll be odd to see Matthew Stafford in a different uniform as he was traded from the Lions to the Rams this offseason.
Sunday, Jan. 2 at Green Bay, 7:20 p.m. (SNF)
It’s Lambeau Field. It’s Sunday Night Football. It’s probably going to be very cold on January 2. These are the games you live for and could determine the winner of the NFC North.
Sunday, Jan. 9 vs Chicago, Noon
What could go wrong facing the Bears in the final week of the season? The Vikings certainly have been in this position before and postseason scenarios are always in play for this game.