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Lunchbreak: 2 Vikings Matchups in NFL.com's Top 9 Prime-Time Games

Posted Apr 20, 2018

The 2018 NFL schedule has arrived.

The Vikings are slated to play four prime-time games in 2018, and two of them were highlighted by NFL.com’s Adam Schein when he ranked the top nine prime-time games across the league.

Coming in at No. 5 on Schein’s list was Saints at Vikings on Sunday, Oct. 28. He wrote:

The Minneapolis Miracle rematch – but this time with Kirk Cousins quarterbacking Minnesota. And with this Sunday night slot scheduled against Game 5 of the World Series, this matchup makes plenty of sense. New Orleans doesn't have a baseball team. And it's hard to imagine the Twins will still be playing.

New Orleans, always a fun team to watch, will have major revenge on its mind after this past January's soul-crushing loss. Marcus Williams definitely has this date circled on the calendar.

Also included by Schein was Week 4, when the Vikings travel to Los Angeles for a Thursday Night Football matchup against the Rams. The Vikings defeated the Rams 24-7 at U.S. Bank Stadium last season.

Schein expects big things from each of the teams in 2018.

This could be a preview of the NFC title game. And the Coliseum is going to be rocking on this Thursday night. The atmosphere in Los Angeles for the Rams playoff game was spectacular. Now with the aforementioned newcomers joining Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley and Jared Goff, the Rams are truly ready for prime time.

This game will be Minnesota’s first prime-time affair with Kirk Cousins, so it's kind of a big deal.

You might wonder which games led off Schein’s list. Coming in at one, two and three, respectively, were Rams at 49ers in Week 7, Packers at Patriots in Week 9 and Falcons at Eagles in Week 1.

Cronin predicts Vikings to split series with Lions, Packers, finish 10-6

Over the past week, a number of predictions cropped up about teams’ respective schedules.

Now that the lineup for each team is set in stone, the predictions turn to win-loss records for 2018.

ESPN’s Courtney Cronin recently released a game-by-game analysis for the Vikings and predicted them to finish the 2018 season 10-6 and be “back in the playoffs for a third time” under Head Coach Mike Zimmer. Cronin wrote:

The Minnesota Vikings were among the winners in free agency. Now it’s time to put their reworked roster to the test. After a 13-3 season that ended in the NFC Championship Game, Minnesota has high hopes to reach Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, but the Vikings will have to get through several tough road stretches and face five playoff teams.

Cronin anticipates Minnesota to finish the first quarter of the season 2-2, with wins against the 49ers and Bills but losses to the Packers and Rams. After the Thursday Night contest in Los Angeles, however, Cronin expects the Vikings to travel to Philadelphia and beat the Eagles after losing to them in last year’s NFC title game.

A couple of added days of rest and time to prepare for the team that knocked Minnesota out of Super Bowl contention is what the Vikings need after their second early road loss. New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo gets to scheme up the Vikings against the defense he faced every day in practice for two years.

According to Cronin’s prediction, the Vikings game against the Eagles will kick off a three-game win streak, notching consecutive wins against the Cardinals and Jets but falling to the Saints in Week 8. She then predicted a Vikings win over the Lions before their Week 10 bye.

Cronin said she believes the Vikings will split the series with the Packers and Lions, winning both games at U.S. Bank Stadium but losing the division contests on the road. And against the Bears? Cronin expects another sweep of the Chicago squad.

In non-division games following the bye, Cronin predicted losses to Seattle and New England on the road and a win over Miami at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Souhan’s observations of Vikings schedule include ‘warm December’

A number of takeaways can be made about the Vikings 2018 schedule, including Vikings.com’s Mike Wobschall’s seven observations posted Thursday.

Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune posted a similar column in which he shared his thoughts on the schedule. He wrote:

The Vikings should see their schedule as challenging but manageable. They probably won't win 13 games again, but they should win the division.

Souhan pointed out the Vikings early trip to Lambeau Field (Week 2), which he called a “big win for fans,” as well as no Thanksgiving Day game after back-to-back trips to Detroit over the past two seasons. He looked at Minnesota’s visit to Seattle in December as a positive, saying the Seahawks “may be fully cognizant that their window is closed by this point in the season.”

Souhan appreciates the league’s decision to slate the Vikings at Philadelphia in Week 5 rather than in the first quarter of the season, and he also is anticipating a “warm December” for the Vikings – although this Vikings.com writer thinks Seattle could end up classifying as a “cold-weather game.”

The Vikings last cold-weather outdoor game will be Dec. 2 at New England. They’ll finish at Seattle, home against Miami, at Detroit and home against Chicago. That could be an easy stretch that allows the Vikings to make the playoffs, as well as a stretch that doesn't require hand-warmers.

For both the team and its fans, this is a pretty attractive schedule.