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2016 Vikings Schedule Icebreakers: Vikings Want to Defend the North

The Vikings announced their regular season schedule* *Thursday.

We're breaking it down into groups of four games to break the ice on Minnesota's opponents in the 2016 season.

The final grouping of games includes the Vikings contests with two AFC South members (at Jacksonville and home against Indianapolis) and two with NFC North rivals (at Green Bay on Christmas Eve and home against Chicago on New Year's Day). Minnesota wants to be in position to secure its second straight division crown or play for positioning in the playoffs by the time the season comes to a close.

Week 14

Vikings at Jaguarsby @pcraigers

Noon* | Dec. 11 | EverBank Field

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 4-1-0

Home: 3-1-0; Away: 1-0-0

Last time in regular season:Vikings won 26-23 in overtime on Sept. 9, 2012* *

Last time in regular season in Jacksonville:Vikings won 30-12 on Nov. 23, 2008

Jacksonville's 2015 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 5,581 (18th in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,473 (27th); Passing yards: 4,108 (10th); Points/game: 23.5 (14th); Sacks allowed/pass play percentage: 8.40 percent (25th) Interception rate: 2.97 percent (26th); Average time of possession: 27:34 (29th)

Jacksonville's 2015 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 375.0 (24th); Rushing yards allowed/game: 106.8 (15th); Passing yards allowed/game: 268.2 (29th); Points allowed/game: 28.0 (31st); Sacks/pass play: 5.98 percent (23rd); Interception rate: 1.50 percent (31st)

Icebreakers:This will be just the second trip that the Vikings have made to Jacksonville, a team coached by Zumbrota native Gus Bradley. … This matchup will feature two of the three quarterbacks — Blake Bortles (No. 3 overall) and Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32) — selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Bortles threw for a franchise-record 35 touchdowns in 2015 after the Jaguars combined for 31 from 2013-14. Bortles, however, also led the league with 18 interceptions in 2015 and has suffered the most sacks in each of the past two seasons (55 in 2014 and 51 in 2015). … Allen Robinson ranked sixth in the NFL with 1,400 receiving yards and tied for the most receiving touchdowns (14). Allen Hurns added 64 catches for 1,031 yards and 10 scores. … The Jaguars rushed for 1,473 yards last season (12 less than the total by Adrian Peterson as the Vikings running back won his third rushing title) and five scores.

View images of the Vikings opponents after the 2016 schedule was released on Thursday.

Week 15

Vikings vs. Coltsby @pcraigers

Noon* | Dec. 18 | U.S. Bank Stadium

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 7-16-1

Home: 7-5-1; Away: 0-11-0

Last time in regular season:Vikings lost 23-20 on Sept. 16, 2012*  *

Last time in regular season in Minnesota:Vikings lost 18-15 on Sept. 14, 2008

Indianapolis' 2015 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 5,142 (28th in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,438 (29th); Passing yards: 3,704 (22nd); Points/game: 20.8 (24th); Sacks allowed/pass play percentage: 5.98 percent (14th) Interception rate: 3.07 percent (27th); Average time of possession: 29:32 (22nd)

Indianapolis' 2015 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 379.1 (26th); Rushing yards allowed/game: 122.0 (25th); Passing yards allowed/game: 257.1 (24th); Points allowed/game: 25.5 (25th); Sacks/pass play: 5.98 percent (22nd); Interception rate: 2.91 percent (6th)

Icebreakers:Andrew Luck's consistency (went 11-5 in each of his first three seasons) and clutch play (four fourth-quarter comebacks in 2012 and 2013) hit a snag in 2015 because of injuries. Luck appeared in just seven games, going 2-5 and throwing for career lows in completions, yards, touchdowns, rating and an all-time high interception rate of 4.1 percent. It wasn't quite the follow-up to his 40 passing touchdowns in 2014 that helped him garner a third straight Pro Bowl selection. …Indianapolis went the veteran route in free agency by signing Frank Gore and Andre Johnson. Gore is poised to return for his 12th pro season as the only active running back ahead of Adrian Peterson in career rush yards. Gore had 967 in 2015 to give him a total of 12,040. Peterson has 11,675 rushing yards heading into his 10th season. They rank 15th and 17th all-time. … The Colts have veterans throughout their defense, including OLBs Robert Mathis (14th season) and Trent Cole (12th), ILB D'Qwell Jackson (11th), eighth-year CBs Darius Butler and Vontae Davis, S Mike Adams (13th), DT Arthur Jones (7) and DE Kendall Langford (9). Langford and Mathis tied for the team lead with 7.0 sacks, and Adams led the Colts with five interceptions in 2015.

Week 16

Vikings at Packersby @LindseyMNSports

Noon* | Dec. 24 | Lambeau Field

Series results

Vikings W-L-T:50-59-2

Home:26-28;** way: *24-31-2

Last time in regular season:Vikings defeated Packers 20-13 on Jan. 3, 2016, in Green Bay* *

Last time in regular season in Green Bay:same

Green Bay's 2015 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 5,353 (23rd in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,850 (12th); Passing yards: 3,503 (tied for 25th); Points/game: 23 (15th); Sacks allowed/pass play percentage: 8.20 percent (24th) Interception rate: 1.40 percent (2nd); Average time of possession: 30:08 (tied for 18th)

Green Bay's 2015 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 346.7 (15th); Rushing yards allowed/game: 119.1 (21st); Passing yards allowed/game: 227.6 (6th); Points allowed/game: 20.2 (12th); Sacks/pass play: 7.80 percent (5th); Interception rate: 2.90 percent (7th)

Icebreakers:This will mark the Vikings 58th trip to Lambeau Field since 1961. Minnesota will be looking for its 25th road win over the Packers after taking the NFC North division title in 2015's final regular season game. … Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is 11-5 against Minnesota and boasts 113.2 passer rating in the Border Battle. Rodgers led Green Bay on a five-game win streak (starting with the first game of the 2010 season) that the Vikings snapped with a 37-34 win on Dec. 30, 2012. … Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has racked up 1,760 rushing yards in 15 games against Green Bay, averaging 110 yards per game. Peterson has 13 rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown against the Packers. … Packers RB Eddie Lacy had a lower-production year in 2015 with 758 rushing yards (compared to 1,000-plus in 2013 and 2014) but is expected to once again play a large role in Green Bay's offense in 2016.

View aerial images updated from both the northeast corner and then the southwest corner, showcasing the progress at U.S. Bank Stadium. Updated from late June of 2016.

Week 17

Vikings vs. Bears by@EricLSmith

Noon* | Jan. 1, 2017 | U.S. Bank Stadium

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 57-51-2

Home: 35-21; Away: 22-30-2

Last time in regular season:Vikings defeated Bears 38-17 on Dec. 20, 2015, in Minnesota

Last time in regular season in Minnesota:Same

Chicago's 2015 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 5,514 (21st in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,851 (11th) ; Passing yards: 3,663 (23rd); Points/game: 20.9 (23rd); Sacks allowed/pass play percentage: 6.50 percent (20th);  Interception rate: 2.29 percent (18th); Average time of possession: 31:01 (10th)

Chicago's 2015 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 345.4 (14th); Rushing yards allowed/game: 120.9 (tied for22nd); Passing yards allowed/game: 224.6 (4th); Points allowed/game: 24.8 (20th); Sacks/pass play: 6.84 percent (12th); Interception rate: 1.56 percent (30th)

Icebreakers:Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had one of the best games of his career at home against the Bears last season as he threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns while adding another score on the ground. … This season will be the first since 2007 that the Bears won't have running back Matt Forte, who was released in the offseason. Forte rushed for 1,092 yards and a touchdown in 15 career games against the Vikings. … Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler had one of the best seasons of his career in 2015 as he threw for 3,659 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. … The Bears will look to improve on their 6-10 record in their second year under head coach John Fox. Chicago has finished last in the NFC North the past two seasons and last won the division in 2010, when they went to the NFC Championship game.

All listed times are Central.

  • Game time subject to the NFL's flexible scheduling procedures.
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