EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings will play three prime-time games in 2017, and won’t have to wait long to play under the bright lights.
Minnesota opens the 2017 season at home on ESPN’s Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints. The Vikings season opener is on Sept. 11 at 6:10 p.m. (CT).
The Vikings stout defense should be tested against Saints quarterback Drew Brees in an electric atmosphere at U.S. Bank Stadium. New Orleans and Head Coach Sean Payton won Super Bowl XLIV after playing the Vikings in the 2009 NFC Championship.
“I think it’s fun,” Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer told Vikings.com. “We get to open at home, and I think the fans will be really excited about the game. New Orleans is a great team.
“(They have a) Hall of Fame quarterback, a Super-Bowl-winning coach, so it should be a lot of fun,” Zimmer added.
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The Vikings also will play in Chicago on Monday Night Football for the second consecutive season. The nationally televised Week 5 game has a 7:30 p.m. (CT) kickoff on Oct. 9 on ESPN.
The game against the Bears is the second of three straight against NFC North foes. The Vikings host the Lions in Week 4 before the Packers come to Minnesota in Week 6.
The Vikings went 2-4 in the NFC North in 2016.
“These division games are going to be really important,” Zimmer said. “Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay all in a row. We have to do better in the division.”
The Vikings and Packers will clash in front of a nationwide audience in Week 16 on Saturday Night Football on NBC. The Dec. 23 matchup at Lambeau Field kicks off at 7:30 p.m. (CT).
Minnesota played at Green Bay in Week 16 of the 2016 season, and the teams met at Lambeau Field in Week 17 of the 2015 season.
“It’s very similar to what we did last year,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings will also play in Detroit on Thanksgiving for the second straight season. Minnesota plays in the early time slot at 11:30 a.m. (CT) at Ford Field.
The holiday game will be the eighth time the Vikings have played on Thanksgiving. Prior to last season’s matchup with the Lions, the Vikings hadn’t played on Thanksgiving since 2000. Minnesota is 5-2 all-time on Thanksgiving.
The Vikings could see additional prime-time games in 2017 if they are flexed into the Sunday night slot. Flex scheduling begins in Week 5 and goes until Week 17. Only Sunday afternoon games can be moved to Sunday Night Football.
The Vikings are 51-59 all-time in prime-time games (27-32 on Monday Night Football, 6-10 on Thursday Night Football and 18-17 on Sunday Night Football).
Minnesota had four prime-time games on its 2016 schedule and went 2-2.
Vikings 2017 Schedule
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 11 | New Orleans | ESPN | 6:10 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17 | at Pittsburgh | FOX | Noon
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24 | Tampa Bay | FOX | Noon
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1 | Detroit | FOX | Noon
Week 5: Monday, Oct. 9 | at Chicago | ESPN | 7:30 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15 | Green Bay | FOX | Noon*
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22 | Baltimore | CBS | Noon*
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29 | at Cleveland (in London) | NFLN | 8:30 a.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5 | BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12 | at Washington | FOX | Noon*
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19 | Los Angeles Rams | FOX | Noon*
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 23 | at Detroit | FOX | 11:30 a.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3 | at Atlanta | FOX | Noon*
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10 | at Carolina | CBS | Noon*
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17 | Cincinnati | CBS | Noon*
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 23 | at Green Bay | NBC | 7:30 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31 | Chicago | FOX | Noon*
(All times are Central; *Time subject to change due to flexible scheduling)