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Analyzing Vikings Games 5-8 of 2021 Schedule: Lions, Panthers, Cowboys & Ravens


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 follow a two-road-two-home sequence of its first four games of 2021 with a third consecutive home game (Detroit) before a visit to Carolina. After a Week 7 bye, the Vikings will host the Cowboys on Halloween and then make a rare road appearance in Baltimore.

Here's a look at the series history, 2020 stats, roster changes and some "icebreakers" for Games 5-8 of the Vikings 2021 season:

Vikings vs. Lions | Week 5

Noon* (CT) | Sunday, Oct. 10 | U.S. Bank Stadium

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Series Results

Vikings W-L-T: 78-39-2 (no meetings in playoffs)

Home: 42-16-1; Away: 36-23-1

Last time in regular season in Minnesota: Vikings defeated Lions 34-20 on Nov. 8, 2020

2020 Stats

Detroit offense

The Lions struggled to control the ball in 2020, averaging a possession time that ranked tied for 29th in the league at just 27:54.

Detroit averaged 256.5 passing yards per game with Matthew Stafford last season, which put them at 10th-highest in the NFL.

Detroit defense

The Lions had problems defensively across the board last season. The team ranked dead-last in total yards allowed per game (419.8) and per play (6.29). On average, the Lions gave up 8.2 yards per passing play, which also ranked last.

Opponents converted 61.1 percent of fourth-down attempts against the Lions in 2020, which tied for 22nd in the NFL (11 conversions on 18 tries).

Lions Roster Refresher

Added: QB Jared Goff (via trade), RB Jamaal Williams, WR Breshad Perriman, TE Josh Hill, DE Charles Harris, DT Michael Brockers (via trade), LB Alex Anzalone, CB Quinton Dunbar, K Randy Bullock

First two picks of 2021 NFL Draft: Oregon T Penei Sewell at No. 7 overall and Washington DT Levi Onwuzurike at No. 41

Departed (new team if player has signed or was traded)/contract expired/waived/unsigned: QB Chase Daniel (Chargers), Stafford (traded to Rams), RB Adrian Peterson, WR Jamal Agnew (Jaguars), WR Danny Amendola, WR Kenny Golloday (Giants), WR Marvin Jones (Jaguars), WR Mohamed Sanu (49ers), TE Jesse James, DE Everson Griffen, LB Jarrad Davis (Jets), CB Justin Coleman (Dolphins), CB Darryl Roberts (Wash. Football Team), CB Desmond Trufant (Bears), S Duron Harmon (Falcons), S Miles Killebrew (Steelers), K Matt Prater (Cardinals), RB Kerryon Johnson


After a trio of consecutive losing seasons under Matt Patricia, the Lions in January hired Dan Campbell to take over as Detroit's head coach for the upcoming season; former Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn was hired as the Lions offensive coordinator, and Aaron Glenn was hired as defensive coordinator. … Stafford, who was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, is the franchise leader in completions, passing yards and touchdowns. … The Lions have not recorded double-digit wins since the 2014 season. … Former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson led the Lions in rushing in 2020 with 604 yards and added seven touchdowns. … Only one player (Harmon) secured two interceptions for the Lions, who finished 2020 with just seven total picks.

Vikings at Panthers | Week 6

Noon* (CT) | Sunday, Oct. 17 | Bank of America Stadium

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Series Results

Vikings W-L-T: 9-6 (no meetings in playoffs)

Home: 7-3; Away: 2-3

Last time in regular season: Vikings defeated Panthers 28-27 on Nov. 29, 2020

Last time in regular season in Carolina: Panthers defeated Vikings 31-24 on Dec. 10, 2017

2020 Stats

Carolina offense

The Panthers ranked second in the NFL with an average time of possession per drive of 3:07 but last in the NFL in goal-to-go percentage (58.6) after scoring touchdowns on 17 of 29 possessions inside an opponent's 20-yard line.

Carolina lost just five fumbles on the season, tied for the second-fewest in the NFL.

Carolina defense

The Panthers ranked 31st in the NFL in opponents' success on third downs with an allowance rate of 49.3 percent (98 conversions out of 199 plays).

Carolina forced at least one turnover in 13 of its games, including four by the Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Football Team and three by Minnesota. The Panthers led the league with 15 recoveries of fumbles by opponents.



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Panthers Roster Refresher

Added: QB Sam Darnold (via trade), WR David Moore, TE Dan Arnold, T Cam Erving, G Pat Elflein, DT DaQuan Jones, LB Denzel Perryman, LB Haason Reddick, CB A.J. Bouye, CB Rashaan Melvin

First two picks of 2021 NFL Draft: South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn at No. 8 overall and LSU WR Terrace Marshall, Jr., at 59

Departed (new team if player has signed or was traded)/contract expired/waived/unsigned: QB Teddy Bridgewater (Broncos), RB Mike Davis (Falcons), WR Curtis Samuel (Wash. Football Team), WR Pharoh Cooper, Stephen Weatherly (Vikings), DT Kawann Short, LB Tahir Whitehead, CB Rasul Douglas (Raiders), S Tre Boston


Carolina made a buzz before the draft with two trades involving quarterbacks drafted in first rounds of their respective drafts. The Panthers acquired 2018 No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold from the Jets. The QB flew from New York in exchange for a sixth-round pick this year, as well as second- and fourth-round picks next year. Carolina sent former Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater, who was drafted 32nd overall by Minnesota in 2014, to Denver in exchange for a sixth-round pick this year. … Although he missed all but three games last season, dynamic dual-threat RB Christian McCaffrey tied for second on the team with five rushing touchdowns and ranked fourth among teammates with 76 touches on offense. … D.J. Moore led the Panthers with 1,193 yards and four receiving scores. … S Jeremy Chinn became the first player in Panthers history with two defensive touchdowns in the same game. He scored on fumble returns of 17 and 28 yards against Minnesota.

— By @pcraigers

Bye Week | Week 7

Random fact: This is the first time since 1993-94 that the Vikings bye week has been in Week 7 of consecutive seasons.

Vikings vs. Cowboys | Week 8

7:20 p.m.* (CT) | Sunday, Oct. 31 | U.S. Bank Stadium

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Series Results

Vikings W-L: 15-17 (includes 3-4 in playoffs)

Home: 7-11; Away: 8-6

Last time in regular season: Cowboys defeated Vikings 31-28 on Nov. 22, 2020

Last time in regular season in Minnesota: Cowboys defeated Vikings 31-28 on Nov. 22, 2020

2020 Stats

Dallas offense

The Cowboys ranked second in the NFL in pass attempts (39.9 per game) and eighth in passing yards (260.1 per game) in 2020. Dak Prescott averaged 44.4 pass attempts and 371.2 passing yards before suffering a season-ending injury in his fifth game.

Dallas ranked sixth in the NFL with an average of 6.41 plays per drive but 30th in average time per drive (2:31).

Dallas defense

The Cowboys ranked 28th in points against after allowing a franchise-high 473. That total was 37 points higher than the previous worst of 436, which ranked 31st in 2010.

Opponents ran the ball 510 times for 2,541 yards. Both of those totals were the second-highest in the NFL.


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Cowboys Roster Refresher

Added: DL Brent Urban, S Keanu Neal, S Jayron Kearse, DB Damontae Kazee, LS Jake McQuaide, P Bryan Anger

First two picks of 2021 NFL Draft: Penn State LB Micah Parsons at No. 12 overall and Kentucky CB Kelvin Joseph at 44

Departed (new team if player has signed or was traded)/contract expired/waived/unsigned: QB Andy Dalton (Bears), FB Jamize Olawale, TE Blake Bell (Chiefs), OL Joe Looney, T Cameron Erving (Panthers), DE Aldon Smith (Seahawks), DE Tyrone Crawford (retired), DT Antwaun Woods, LB Sean Lee (retired), CB Chidobe Awuzie (Bengals), S Xavier Woods (Vikings), LS L.P. Ladouceur


This will be the first time for the Vikings to face the Cowboys in three consecutive regular seasons since 1998-2000. Minnesota won all three of those contests, but the teams have split the two most recent meetings. The Vikings were able to protect a lead on the road in 2019 but were unable to guard a four-point margin at home last season. … RB Ezekiel Elliott had the fewest rushing yards (979) and tied for his fewest rushing touchdowns (six) of his career. His average of 65.3 rushing yards per game brought his career average down from 96.5 to 89.9. … WRs Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb combined for 2,892 receiving yards, and each caught five touchdowns. … DeMarcus Lawrence led Dallas with 6.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

— By @pcraigers

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

Vikings at Ravens | Week 9

Noon* (CT) | Sunday, Nov. 7 | M&T Bank Stadium

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Series Results

Vikings W-L: 3-3 (no meetings in playoffs)

Home: 2-0; Away: 1-3

Last time in regular season: Vikings defeated Ravens 24-16 in Minnesota on Oct. 22, 2017

Last time in regular season at Baltimore: Ravens defeated Vikings 29-26 on Dec. 8, 2013

2020 Stats

Baltimore offense

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson averaged 2.98 seconds to throw in 2020, the fourth-highest among all quarterbacks.

The Ravens led the league with 191.9 rushing yards per game. Baltimore was also first in this category in 2019, and was second overall in rushing yards per game in 2018.

Baltimore defense

The Ravens were among the league's best units on third downs, ranking second with a third-down rate of 34.03 percent. That was Baltimore's best showing since 2013, when the Ravens allowed opponents to convert on just 33.48 percent.

Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey had a penchant for knocking the ball loose, recording a league-high eight forced fumbles. Oddly enough, he didn't have a single fumble recovery.

View photos of the Vikings 2021 coaching staff.

Ravens Roster Refresher

Added: WR Sammy Watkins, TE Josh Oliver (acquired in trade with Jaguars), T Alejandro Villanueva, OG Kevin Zeitler

First two picks of 2021 NFL Draft: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman at No. 27 overall and Penn State Edge Jayson Oweh at 31

Departed (new team if player has signed or was traded)/contract expired/waived/unsigned: QB Robert Griffin III, RB Mark Ingram (Texans), WR Dez Bryant, WR Chris Moore, WR Willie Snead (Raiders), T Orlando Brown (traded to Chiefs), G D.J. Fluker (Dolphins), C Matt Skura (Dolphins), DE Yannick Ngakoue (Raiders), DE Jihad Ward (Jaguars), LB Matt Judon (Patriots)


Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, has started 37 games over the past three seasons. He has racked up 9,991 passing and rushing yards and 85 total touchdowns in those games. … Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is 129-79 as he enters his 14th season in charge. Baltimore has made nine playoff appearances and captured Super Bowl XLVII in his tenure. … Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is the NFL's all-time, most-accurate kicker with a field goal percentage of 90.65. He has made 291 of 321 career kicks. … Baltimore was one of seven teams with a kickoff return for a score in 2020.


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