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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The 2016 NFL schedule is offering Vikings fans ample reasons to celebrate on holidays this year.
The season schedule was released Thursday, and the Vikings are slated to play games on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year's Day – all against NFC North division rivals.
On Nov. 24, the Vikings will face the Lions in Detroit for an 11:30 a.m. (CT) kickoff. The game will mark Minnesota's seventh Thanksgiving game, the most recent being at Dallas on Nov. 23, 2000.
"The good thing is that it's a division team," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said upon the schedule release. "We kind of know them, and they kind of know us. It's a short trip for us, so we're looking forward to that as well."
The Vikings have totaled 205 points and boast an overall record of 5-1 in Thanksgiving matchups, their lone loss coming to Detroit in 1995. Of their three games against the NFC North division rivals, the Vikings have held the Lions scoreless twice. Below is a list of Minnesota's Thanksgiving Day history:
Nov. 27, 1969 | Vikings 27, Lions 0 | W
Nov. 26, 1987 | Vikings 44, Cowboys 38 | W (OT)
Nov. 24, 1988 | Vikings 23, Lions 0 | W
Nov. 23, 1995 | Vikings 38, Lions 44 | L
Nov. 26, 1998 | Vikings 46, Cowboys 36 | W
Nov. 23, 2000 | Vikings 27, Cowboys 15 | W
It's been almost two decades since the Vikings have made an appearance on Turkey Day, but their reputation stands on its own in the holiday games. In Minnesota's past two Thanksgiving games, 1998 and 2000, former wide receiver Randy Moss combined for five receiving touchdowns and totaled 307 yards off of only 10 catches.
The 1998 game was all-around one for the books. Minnesota recorded six touchdowns that afternoon in Dallas, five of them on plays of 50-plus yards. Moss recorded a 51-yard catch followed by two 56-yarders, running back Leroy Hoard posted 12-yard and 50-yard touchdown runs, and quarterback Randall Cunningham connected with receiver Cris Carter for a 54-yard touchdown.
Minnesota has an overall series record of 71-36-2 against Detroit. The Vikings swept the Lions during the 2015 regular season, and they'll look to keep their Thanksgiving game reputation alive when they face Detroit Week 12.
"You know that everybody in the world is going to be watching you," Zimmer said. "It's always a fun thing."
View photos through the years of the Vikings on Thanksgiving.
Hoping to scare the Bears
The Vikings will travel to Chicago to face the NFC North division rival Bears in a Halloween edition of Monday Night Football. Minnesota will try to spook the Bears and come away with a win in the teams' first meeting of the season.
Throughout team history, the Vikings are 3-4 in Halloween games. This will not be their first Halloween showdown with the Bears, as the two teams met on Oct. 31, 1976. The Vikings lost to the Bears by a single point before winning five of their next six regular-season games and making it to Super Bowl XI that season under legendary Head Coach Bud Grant.
This year will mark the Vikings first Monday night Halloween game but second prime time Halloween game.
1965 | Vikings 27, Browns 17 | W
1971 | Vikings 17, Giants 10 | W
1976 | Vikings 13, Bears 14 | L
1993 | Vikings 27, Lions 30 | L
1999 | Vikings 23, Broncos 20 | W
2004 | Vikings 13, Giants 34 | L
2010 | Vikings 18, Patriots 28 | L
Minnesota has an overall series record of 57-51-2 against the Bears and will look for a fourth consecutive win. Soldier Field has historically been a scary place for the Vikings, but last season they defeated the Bears 23-20 for the team's first win in Chicago since 2007, snapping a seven-game losing streak.
View images of the Vikings opponents after the 2016 schedule was released on Thursday.
Looking to unwrap a win
Minnesota is scheduled to face the Packers at noon (CT) on Christmas Eve for the teams' second matchup of the season.
The Vikings are 1-2 on Dec. 24. Their first Christmas Eve game occurred in 1995. Minnesota lost to Cincinnati in the final game of an 8-8 regular season. Minnesota's yuletide game log is as follows:
1995 | Vikings 24, Bengals 27 | L
2000 | Vikings 10, Colts 31 | L
2011 | Vikings 33, Redskins 26 | W
Although the Vikings won their last Christmas Eve game, it didn't leave much else to celebrate for running back Adrian Peterson, who tore his ACL against the Redskins. True to form, however, he returned from surgery for a comeback 2012 season.
After dethroning the Packers to take the NFC North division title in 2015's last regular-season game, the Vikings have an overall series record of 50-59-2 against Green Bay. Their first matchup of the 2016 season will be Minnesota's home opener on Sept. 18.
New Year's resolution
Minnesota will kick off 2017 while wrapping up the 2016 regular season by hosting Chicago.
The Vikings are 1-4 in New Year's Day games, including three postseason losses. Interestingly, 2016 will mark the fourth time for Chicago and Minnesota to face off on New Year's Day. Most recently, the two teams played the final game of the 2011 season on Jan. 1, 2012, but Jared Allen recorded his franchise-record 22nd sack of the season. The complete list of Minnesota's New Year's Day games is below:
1978 | Vikings 6, Cowboys 23 | L, NFC Championship Game
1989 | Vikings 9, 49ers 34 | L, NFC Divisional Playoff Game
1995 | Vikings 18, Chicago 35 | L, NFC Playoffs, First Round
2006 | Vikings 34, Bears 10 | W
2011 | Vikings 13, Bears 17 | L