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Monday Morning Mailbag: Top Vikings 2020 Schedule Matchups & Facing A Gauntlet of QBs

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Hi Eric … it seems like the Vikings are ALWAYS heading to play at Seattle! On the other side, I see the Falcons coming to town again this year! Hope they put a beat down them … but they're going to have to lock down Julio Jones without Xavier Rhodes. They get to see Tom Brady, too! Will be another tough schedule, but can't wait to see how they do! What matchups are you excited about?

— Jim Bremer

We'll dive into the Vikings 2020 schedule right away. Yes, those Seattle trips are turning into an annual thing, but the reasoning can be found here. As for the matchups I'm most excited about, I'll give you a few:

Week 1 vs. Green Bay: Everyone wants to be 1-0 after Week 1, but the stakes are even higher when you have your biggest rival at home. The Packers swept the Vikings in 2019, so you know this will be a big one for the Purple to prove they belong in the NFC North discussion.

Week 12 vs. Carolina: For sentimental reasons, the chance to see Teddy Bridgewater as a starting QB will be awesome, even if he's on the other side. He overcame so much to get back on the field. Plus, this could be a late-November matchup of NFC teams battling for playoff spots.

Week 14 at Tampa Bay: Plenty of hype around the Buccaneers with Tom Brady now at QB. But a mid-December trip to Florida is always nice, too. This highlights the lack of cold-weather games for the Vikings this year.

Week 16 at New Orleans: The rare Christmas Day game, just the fourth time in franchise history we will play on the holiday. Plus, these two teams have emerged as bitter rivals (and NFC contenders) in recent years. This one could also be important for playoff seeding.

What Is the toughest stretch for games for the Vikings? The secondary will be seriously tested in what games?

— Zane Stanley

As for the toughest stretch, you could look to the first slate of games for that. The Vikings first seven games feature plenty of 2019 playoff teams: the Packers (twice), plus the Titans, Texans and Seahawks. The AFC South is a grinder of a division, and Minnesota will be tested.

The three NFC North tilts after the bye are huge, and so are the three straight home games in Weeks 11-13. That's because Minnesota ends with three of four on the road, which is no easy feat.

The Vikings young secondary will certainly have their hands full, well, pretty much every week.

Let's start in the division, where Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford are experienced veterans. If Nick Foles ends up starting in Chicago, we know he's had plenty of success against the Vikings. If it's Mitchell Trubisky, well, he's fared well against the defense, too.

Outside of the division, the Vikings will see future Hall of Famers in Drew Brees and Tom Brady… those guys rank first and second, respectively, in all-time passing yards and touchdowns. Fun!

Philip Rivers is a crafty veteran in a new home (Indianapolis), Matt Ryan was the NFL MVP in 2016, Russell Wilson has a Super Bowl and is seemingly unbeatable in Seattle, and the Texas Two Step of Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson are among the most-exciting young players in the game.

Did I mention that Titans QB Ryan Tannehill led the league in passer rating in 2019 at 117.5? And you know that Bridgewater will be fired up to play his former team as a starter in a venue where it looked like he was poised to play in for years to come. And don't discount [Gardner] Minshew Mania with Jacksonville.

So, let's see, that covers … yep, all 16 games … on the Vikings schedule in 2020. Buckle up!

When referring to having a "window" to win now, it appears Minnesota's window has closed. I believe the Vikings will be competitive in their division, but with a turnover of players, especially defensively (defensive wins championships, right?), would you say that window has closed?

— Jesse in Grand Forks, North Dakota

The outside perception from those who cover the league — and perhaps the NFL itself — appears to be that the Vikings will take a step back in 2020. They were scheduled on just two prime-time games, not including the Christmas Day game, while other teams across the league were featured on four or even five nationally-televised games. With 12 games scheduled to start at noon (CT), it appears the Vikings will play a regular, plain Jane schedule for most of 2020.

You know who loves that? Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings are 35-14-1 under Zimmer when kicking off at noon (CT) since 2015. And you know that Zimmer and his team love playing the underdog role, which they reveled in before beating the Saints on the road in the playoffs in January.

The view of the Vikings has likely changed since so many prominent names — Stefon Diggs, Linval Joseph, Xavier Rhodes, etc. — are now gone. But Zimmer and his staff love the challenge of developing young players and getting them ready to play. And, don't forget, the roster still includes plenty of talent, even on defense. Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, Anthony Harris, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr will surely have something to say about that this season.

So no, I don't believe the window has closed. And you can bet the Vikings and Zimmer agree and want to prove that this upcoming season.

The Vikings are set to celebrate their 60th NFL season in 2020. This Vikings 2020 NFL Schedule Gallery features key foes and offers a look at some throwback moments — near and far — against Minnesota's opponents.

I cannot wait to see what Andre Patterson does with D.J. Wonnum, James Lynch, and Kenny Willekes. The battle for defensive line roster spots on the Vikings will be competitive. Some tough decisions will have to be made.

— Gerald Goblirsch

This position group should be fun to watch with a mix of veterans and youngsters. Let's just hypothetically say that Hunter, Shamar Stephen, Michael Pierce and Ifeadi Odenigbo are the current starters based on the roster as it stands today.

That's a formidable group, with plenty of depth behind them. The three rookies — Wonnum, Lynch and Willekes — should all be in position to compete for playing time.

But they will be pushed by those already on the roster in Armon Watts, Jaleel Johnson, Jalyn Holmes, Hercules Mata'afa and Eddie Yarbrough. Plus, Minnesota added Anthony Zettel in free agency, and he'll also provide a solid veteran presence.

From 2014-2018, the Vikings kept between eight or nine defensive linemen on the roster. But the team kept 10 players on the initial 53-man roster in 2019, a sign of the depth and talent in that group. Perhaps the coaching staff will feel that double-digit linemen are warranted again.

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