The full Vikings 2022 NFL schedule dropped Thursday night, so we'll start taking a deeper look at opponents in a four-part series beginning today.
Minnesota will open Kevin O'Connell's tenure as head coach at home and in the 124th Border Battle with Green Bay at 3:25 p.m. (CT) on FOX. The former Patriots draft pick will have a reunion with Bill Belichick in the first Thanksgiving game ever hosted by Minnesota.
That's three games in the first four that should be widely available across the airwaves.
The only noon (CT) kickoff during this blockbuster stretch will be a reunion with Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 3.
We'll find out how well O'Connell can lead his team through the four different weekly schedules.
With that curiosity in mind, here's a rundown on Minnesota's first four opponents that includes series history and their current status after free agency (which is still continuing, by the way) and the draft.
We've also included an "icebreaking storyline" for this point in the calendar.
Vikings vs. Packers | Week 1
3:25 p.m. (CT) | Sept. 11 | U.S. Bank Stadium
Vikings W-L-T: 56-64-3 (includes 1-1 in postseason)
Home: 30-30; Away: 26-34-3 (1-1 in postseason)
Last time in regular season: Packers won 37-10 on Jan. 2, 2022
Last time in regular season in Minnesota: Vikings won 34-31 on Nov. 21, 2021
The Vikings will open the 2022 season with a home game against the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Green Bay Offense
Yards/Game: 365.6 (10th in NFL) | Points/Game: 26.5 (T-9th)
Green Bay Defense
Yards Allowed/Game: 328.2 (9th) | Points Allowed/Game: 21.8 (T-13th)
Head Coach: Matt LaFleur (39-10 in three seasons with Packers and 2-3 postseason)
Key addition in free agency/via trade: Much of the Packers moves involved re-signing players, led by a three-year contract extension of Aaron Rodgers, an extension for Preston Smith and a big deal to bring back LB De'Vondre Campbell.
Key departure in free agency/via trade: Released LB Za'Darius Smith
First two selections of 2022 NFL Draft: LB Quay Walker, Georgia (No. 22 overall); DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia (28)
Straight out the gate
For the third time in the seven seasons since 2016 when U.S. Bank Stadium opened, the Vikings will host the Packers in their home opener. Za'Darius Smith, who joined Minnesota during free agency in part to reconnect with former Green Bay coaches Mike Pettine and Mike Smith, is scheduled to face Aaron Rodgers and company for the first time since he did so in 2017 as a member of the Ravens. Minnesota's 72 sacks of Rodgers in 27 games are the most by any team (Chicago is next with 54 in 27 games), and the Vikings will be looking to create more pressure on the QB than in the 2020 season opener that was played without fans. Rodgers has thrown four touchdown passes in each of his past two games at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Vikings at Eagles | Week 2
7:30 p.m. (CT) | Sept. 19 | Lincoln Financial Field
Vikings W-L-T: 15-14-0 (includes 0-4 in postseason)
Home: 8-4 (0-1 in postseason) | Away: 7-10 (0-3 in postseason)
Last time in regular season: Vikings won 38-20 in Minnesota on Oct. 13, 2019
Last time in regular season at Philadelphia: Vikings won 23-21 on Oct. 7, 2018
Yards/Game: (10th in NFL) | Points/Game: 22.6 (18th)
Yards Allowed/Game: 328.8 (10th) | Points Allowed/Game: 22.6 (18th)
Head Coach: Nick Sirianni (9-8 through one season with Eagles, 0-1 in postseason)
Key addition in free agency/via trade: Acquired WR A.J. Brown from the Titans in exchange for a 2022 first-rounder and a third-rounder
Key departure in free agency/via trade: S Rodney McLeod and CB Steven Nelson
First two selections of 2022 NFL Draft: DT Jordan Davis, Georgia (No. 13 overall) and C Cam Jurgens, Nebraska (51)
Key conference matchup
This game, which is part of a "side-by-side doubleheader" broadcast by ABC and ESPN (Titans at Bills) will pit teams that met in the 2017 NFC Championship Game. Philadelphia won that one on the way to claiming Super Bowl LII in Minnesota, and the Vikings have prevailed in a pair of regular-season games since (2018 at Philly and 2019 in Minneapolis). Both teams have replaced their coaches in the past two years. Sirianni helped the Eagles claim the seventh and final playoff spot in his first season thanks to the Vikings stumbling down the stretch. It will be early, but this one could prove pivotal later on when the Vikings are trying to map their path to the playoffs, with or without Nicholas Cage.
View photos of the Vikings 2022 schedule at U.S. Bank Stadium and on the road.
Vikings vs. Lions | Week 3
Noon (CT) | Sept. 25 | U.S. Bank Stadium
Vikings W-L-T: 79-40-2 (no postseason meetings)
Home: 43-16-1; Away: 36-24-1
Last time in regular season: Lions won 29-27 in Detroit on Dec. 5, 2021
Last time in regular season in Minnesota: Vikings won 19-17 on Oct. 10, 2021
Yards/Game: 322.6 (22nd) | Points/Game: 19.1 (25th)
Yards Allowed/Game: 379.8 (29th) | Points Allowed/Game: 27.5 (31st)
Head Coach: Dan Campbell (3-13-1 in one season with Detroit; was 5-7 as Miami's interim head coach in 2015)
Key addition in free agency/via trade: Signed WR DJ Chark
Key departure in free agency/via trade: Released DE/OLB Trey Flowers
First two selections of 2022 NFL Draft: DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan (No. 2 overall) and WR Jameson Williams, Alabama (12)
Everyone with anything Purple knows how gritty the "Motor City Kitties" — to borrow from Vikings play-by-play man Paul Allen — played Minnesota last season. The Lions rallied late against the Vikings in their previous trip to U.S. Bank Stadium, erasing a 10-point lead in under four minutes. Minnesota was lifted to a 19-17 win by Greg Joseph's 54-yard field goal on the game's final play. Detroit is expected to continue that grit and has improved its roster with high draft picks. Hutchinson should have a couple of starts under his belt by the time this one rolls around and could be joined on the edge by second-rounder Josh Paschal.
Vikings vs. Saints in London | Week 4
8:30 a.m. (CT) | Oct. 2 | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Vikings W-L-T: 23-13-0 (includes 4-1 in postseason)
Home: 14-4 | Away: 9-9 | Neutral: 0-0
Last time in regular season: Saints won 52-33 in New Orleans on Dec. 25, 2020
New Orleans Offense
Yards/Game: 304.5 (28th) | Points/Game: 21.4 (19th)
New Orleans Defense
Yards Allowed/Game: 318.2 (7th) | Points Allowed/Game: 19.7 (4th)
Head Coach: Dennis Allen (first season as Saints head coach; went 8-28 with Raiders from 2012-14)
Key addition in free agency/via trade: Signed safeties Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Maye and Daniel Sorenson
Key departure in free agency/via trade: S Marcus Williams (to Ravens) and S Malcolm Jenkins (retired)
First two selections of 2022 NFL Draft: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State (No. 11 overall) and T Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa (19)
The Vikings and Saints are each 2-0 when playing regular-season games in London and are taking one of the best intraconference rivalries of the past decade-plus across the pond. Minnesota and New Orleans games have had a little bit of everything in recent years under former Head Coaches Mike Zimmer and Sean Payton. We'll see how things shake out with O'Connell in his first of three consecutive games against coaches who are also in their first seasons with their teams (Bears and Dolphins will follow this game).