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Analyzing Vikings Games 1-4 of 2021 Schedule: Bengals, Cardinals, Seahawks & Browns


The Vikings 2021 schedule, which was announced May 12, will include a pair of road contests to start the season, four prime-time appearances and several intriguing matchups.

Minnesota will visit Cincinnati in Week 1 before traveling to Arizona in Week 2. The Vikings return home to host the Seahawks and Browns in the next two weeks.

Here's a look at the series history, 2020 stats, roster changes and some "icebreakers" for Games 1-4 of the Vikings 2021 season:

Vikings at Bengals | Week 1

Noon (CT) | Sunday, Sept. 12 | Paul Brown Stadium

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Series Results

Vikings W-L: 7-6 (no meetings in playoffs)

Home: 6-0; Away: 1-6

Last time in regular season: Vikings defeated Bengals 34-7 in Minnesota on Dec. 17, 2017

Last time in regular season at Cincinnati: Bengals defeated Vikings 42-14 on Dec. 22, 2013

2020 Stats

Cincinnati offense

The Bengals averaged just 215.5 passing yards per game and 5.9 passing yards per play last season, which ranked 27th and 28th in the NFL, respectively. Those numbers took a big hit after Joe Burrow was lost for the final six games of the season. Cincinnati totaled 156 or fewer passing yards in four of those games, including just 48 in Week 17.

Cincinnati ranked 30th in third-down percentage (36.2) but fourth in fourth-down percentage (70.4). The Bengals converted 19 of 27 fourth-down attempts during the regular season.

Cincinnati defense

Cincinnati allowed opponents to score a touchdown on just 67.7 percent of goal-to-go situations, which was the league's fifth-best rate.

The Bengals defense ranked 26th overall, allowing an average of 389.2 total yards per contest, and 29th in rush defense (148.0 yards allowed per game).



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Bengals Roster Refresher

Added: TE Thaddeus Moss, T Riley Reiff, G Quinton Spain, DE Trey Hendrickson, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DT Mike Daniels, CB Eli Apple, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Mike Hilton, S Ricardo Allen

First two picks of 2021 NFL Draft: LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase at No. 5 overall and Clemson T Jackson Carman at No. 46

Departed (new team if player has signed or was traded)/contract expired/waived/unsigned: RB Giovani Bernard (Buccaneers), WR A.J. Green (Cardinals), WR John Ross (Giants), OL Bobby Hart (Bills), DE Carl Lawson (Jets), DT Geno Atkins, DT Christian Covington, CB Mackensie Alexander (Vikings), CB William Jackson III (Wash. Football Team), K Randy Bullock (Lions)


The Bengals finished 4-11-1 and last in the AFC North in the second season under Head Coach Zac Taylor. … Cincinnati won two of its final three regular-season games in 2020. … 2017 second-round draft pick Joe Mixon played just six games but still led the Bengals in rushing with 428 yards and three touchdowns. … WR Tee Higgins, who was drafted 11 spots after Justin Jefferson in the 2020 NFL Draft, led the team in receiving with 908 yards and six touchdowns. … Brandon Wilson was Cincinnati's leading kickoff returner, racking up 629 yards on 24 returns, including a 103-yard return for touchdown against the Giants.

Vikings at Cardinals | Week 2

3:05 p.m. (CT) | Sunday, Sept. 19 | State Farm Stadium

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Series Results

Vikings W-L-T: 17-11 (includes 2-0 in playoffs)

Home: 11-4; Away: 6-7

Last time in regular season: Vikings defeated Cardinals 27-17 in Minnesota on Oct. 14, 2018

Last time in regular season at Arizona: Cardinals defeated Vikings 23-20 on Dec. 10, 2015

2020 Stats

Arizona offense

The Cardinals scored a touchdown on 65.5 percent of their trips inside the red zone, a success rate that ranked 10th in the NFL.

Arizona ranked seventh in the league in rushing yards per game (139.8) but 17th in passing yards per game (244.8).

Arizona defense

The Cardinals allowed 22.7 first downs per game last season, which ranked 23rd in the league.

Arizona allowed teams to score a touchdown on just 54.8 percent of goal-to-go situations, which topped the NFL. The next-closest team defensively was Washington with an allowance rate of 65 percent.

Cardinals Roster Refresher

Added: QB Colt McCoy, RB James Connor, WR A.J. Green, C Rodney Hudson (via trade with Las Vegas), DE J.J. Watt, CB Malcolm Butler, S Shawn Williams, Matt Prater

First two picks of 2021 NFL Draft: Tulsa LB Zaven Collins at No. 16 overall and Purdue WR Rondale Moore at No. 49

Departed (new team if player has signed or was traded)/contract expired/waived/unsigned: QB Brett Hundley, RB Kenyan Drake (Raiders), WR Larry Fitzgerald, TE Dan Arnold, G J.R. Sweezy, LB Haason Reddick (Panthers), De'Vondre Campbell, CB Patrick Peterson (Vikings), CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Johnathan Joseph, K Zane Gonzalez


After going 5-10-1 in his first season at the helm in Arizona, Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury led the Cardinals to an 8-8 record and third-place finish in the NFC West. … WR DeAndre Hopkins ranked third in the NFL with 1,407 receiving yards in his first season in Arizona. … Haason Reddick's 12.5 sacks tied for fourth place in the league. Watt has 101 career sacks but only 9.0 in the past two seasons. … 2019 No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray finished the season 375-of-558 passing for 3,971 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions with a 94.3 passer rating. … Hopkins and Murray both received nods to the Pro Bowl, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic … S Budda Baker received Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors after a campaign in which he led the Cardinals in tackles with 118 (90 solo) and added two interceptions and six passes defensed.

View photos of the Vikings 2021 schedule at U.S. Bank Stadium and on the road.

Vikings vs. Seahawks | Week 3

3:25 p.m. (CT) | Sunday, Sept. 26 | U.S. Bank Stadium

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Series Results

Vikings W-L: 5-13 (includes 0-1 in playoffs)

Home: 3-4; Away: 2-9

Last time in regular season: Seahawks defeated Vikings 27-26 on Oct. 11, 2020

Last time in regular season in Minnesota: Seahawks defeated Vikings 38-7 on Dec. 6, 2015

2020 Stats

Seattle offense

The Seahawks set a team record for points in a season with 459 last season, which ranked eighth in a year when scoring was up across the NFL. It topped the 452 posted by the 2005 squad that led the league.

Seattle ranked fourth in the NFL with a red zone percentage of 73.2, scoring touchdowns on 41 of 56 possessions inside an opponent's 20-yard line.

Seattle defense

The Seahawks limited opponents to 95.6 rushing yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry, ranking fifth in the NFL in both categories. The Vikings rushed for the most yards in a game by any opponent last season, totaling 201 yards on 41 rushes, which was good for an average of 4.9 per carry.

Opponents attempted 674 passes against the Seahawks, the most faced by any defense. Seattle ranked 31st in the NFL with 285.0 passing yards allowed per game.

Seahawks Roster Refresher

Added: TE Gerald Everett, G Gabe Jackson (via trade), Edge Aldon Smith, DT Kerry Hyder, CB Pierre Desir, CB Damarious Randall, CB Ahkello Witherspoon

First two picks of 2021 NFL Draft: Western Michigan WR D'Wayne Eskridge at No. 56 overall and Oklahoma CB Tre Brown at 137

Departed (new team if player has signed or was traded)/contract expired/waived/unsigned: RB Carlos Hyde (Jaguars), WR Josh Gordon, WR David Moore (Panthers), TE Jacob Hollister (Bills), TE Greg Olsen (retired), G Mike Iupati (retired), G Chance Warmack, DT Jarran Reed (Chiefs), Edge Bruce Irvin, LB K.J. Wright, CB Quinton Dunbar (Lions), CB Shaquill Griffin (Jaguars)


Seattle was heavily involved in free agency and only made three selections in the draft. … Seahawks QB and Vikings nemesis Russell Wilson threw career highs in touchdowns (40) and interceptions (13) last season, including three scores and one pick against Minnesota. He is 7-0 all-time against the Vikings, including rabbit-out-of-hat-one-point wins in January 2016 and October 2020. … D.K. Metcalf followed an impressive rookie season by catching 83 passes for 1,303 yards (15.7 yards per catch) and 10 scores to earn his first Pro Bowl selection. … Safety Jamal Adams, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Jets, led Seattle with a career-best 9.5 sacks, despite missing four games. He earned his third consecutive Pro Bowl selection. … Safety Quandre Diggs led the Seahawks with a career-best five interceptions to earn his first Pro Bowl designation.

— By @pcraigers

View photos of the Vikings 2021 coaching staff.

Vikings vs. Browns | Week 4

Noon (CT) | Sunday, Oct. 3 | U.S. Bank Stadium

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Series Results

Vikings W-L-T: 12-4 (includes 1-0 in playoffs)

Home: 7-2; Away: 4-2; Neutral: 1-0

Last time in regular season: Vikings defeated Browns 33-16 at Twickenham Stadium in England on Oct. 29, 2017

Last time in regular season in Minnesota: Browns defeated Vikings 31-27 on Sept. 22, 2013

2020 Stats

Cleveland offense

The Browns are one of a few teams that can say they ran the ball better than the Vikings last season. Cleveland ranked third in rushing yards (148.4 per game) and fifth in touchdowns (21) and yards per rush (4.8). Minnesota ranked fifth, sixth and fourth, respectively, with 142.7 rushing yards per game, 20 touchdowns and an average of 4.9 yards.

Cleveland ranked third in the NFL with an average drive time of 3:00 in 2020.

Cleveland defense

Myles Garrett led the Browns with 12 sacks in 2020, helping Cleveland record 38 as a team for the second consecutive season.

Cleveland ranked 31st in the NFL last season with an allowance rate of 81.5 percent on fourth downs as opponents converted 22 of 27 tries.

Browns Roster Refresher

Added: Edge Takkarist McKinley, DT Malik Jackson, Edge Jadeveon Clowney, LB Malcolm Smith, LB Anthony Walker, CB Troy Hill, S John Johnson III

First two picks of 2021 NFL Draft: Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II at No. 26 overall and Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at 52

Departed (new team if player has signed or was traded)/contract expired/waived/unsigned: DE Adrian Clayborn, DE Olivier Vernon, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DT Sheldon Richardson, LB B.J. Goodson, CB Kevin Johnson, CB Terrance Mitchell II (Texans), S Karl Joseph (Raiders), S Andrew Sendejo


Former Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski immediately built on his years as an assistant in Minnesota with an incredible debut campaign in which Cleveland went 11-5 in the regular season and won a playoff game for the first time since a certain coach named Bill Belichick led the 1994 Browns to an 11-5 mark and postseason victory. In between Belichick's run ending after the 1995 season and Stefanski's arrival, the Browns didn't have a team from 1996-98 and went through 11 head coaches (including interim) from 1999-2019. ... Nick Chubb ranked fourth in the NFL with an average of 5.6 yards per rush and scored a career-best 12 touchdowns in 2020. … Jarvis Landry led the Browns with 72 catches for 840 yards, and others, including TE Austin Hooper (46 for 435) and WR Rashard Higgins (37 for 599), chipped in for a squad that missed WR Odell Beckham, Jr., for most of the season. … After throwing 35 interceptions in his first two seasons, Baker Mayfield reduced that number to eight in 2020.

— By @pcraigers


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