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Vikings 2023 Schedule: Intriguing Non-Division Matchups

The Vikings 2023 schedule was released Thursday, and there are plenty of games and storylines to anticipate.

Minnesota is scheduled to play six contests against division rivals Chicago, Detroit and Green Bay. The Vikings are slated to open the 2023 season at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Buccaneers.

Notably, Minnesota will finish the season with three consecutive division matchups, including Detroit in Weeks 16 and 18. The Lions showed a lot of fight last season, so it could shape up to be an interesting finish.

But take away the recurring NFC North battles, and there are still 11 games that include plenty of top-level competition.

View home and away photos of the Vikings 2023 regular season schedule.

Intriguing matchups between the Vikings and their non-division foes include the following:

Week 1 vs. Bucs: Vikings run game vs. Tampa Bay front 7

The Vikings will kick off their season by hosting the Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

It will be a good test out of the gate for Minnesota's run game, as it will face a tough Tampa front seven.

The Buccaneers are returning nose tackle Vita Vea, and they selected Pittsburgh standout Calijah Kancey 19th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Move beyond Tampa Bay's defensive line, and you've got the likes of Devin White and Lavonte David as inside linebackers at the next level. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Shaquil Barrett pose threats on the outside.

It remains to be seen exactly what the Vikings running back room will look like – General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has said conversations with Dalvin Cook are ongoing – but we know the starting offensive line from last season is remaining intact, which Brian O'Neill has emphasized is a great advantage.

The Buccaneers ranked 15th in run defense last season, allowing opponents an average of 120.7 rushing yards per game, but several players remain from the effort that ranked first in 2020 and third in 2021.

Week 2 at Eagles: Vikings pass protection vs. Philadelphia pass rush

Another week, another difficult defensive front.

The Vikings will need to be on their Ps and Qs when they visit Philly in Week 2 for the second straight season.

The Eagles boast Brandon Graham, Jordan Davis, Fletcher Cox and Josh Sweat across the defensive line, not to mention an explosive linebacker in Haason Reddick just behind. In the draft, they picked up some two more talented defenders in Georgia teammates Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith.

Philadelphia ranked No. 1 in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt last season at 12.6 percent; the team finished the regular season with a league-high 70 sacks.

Reddick ranked No. 2 in the league with 16 sacks on the season.

Week 3 vs. Chargers: Vikings RBs vs. LB Eric Kendricks

This one's going to feel weird: Eric Kendricks with the Chargers lightning bolt on his helmet.

Joining the Chargers in free agency was a bit of a homecoming for Kendricks, a California native, but he certainly built a second home in Minnesota after eight seasons in Purple.

Kendricks helps bolster a Los Angeles defense that experienced the departures of linebackers Troy Reeder, who joined the Vikings in free agency, and Drue Tranquill (Chiefs).

Whether it's on the ground or through the air, Minnesota's running backs will contend with a familiar face.

Week 4 at Panthers: Vikings DBs vs. WR Adam Thielen

Another sight we'll have to get used to is Adam Thielen in a non-Vikings uniform. Minnesota will face the former Vikings receiver in his fourth game as a Panther.

It remains to be seen how Carolina's offense will utilize Thielen, whether he'll be targeted more in the slot or as an outside receiver, but Minnesota's secondary knows all too well the damage Thielen is capable of against a defense.

Though Panthers General Manager Scott Fitterer said recently Andy Dalton is the "starter right now" at QB, No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young will be leading the offense by the time the Vikings visit. Either way, Thielen promises to be a threat Minnesota will need to be prepared for.

Week 5 vs Chiefs: S Harrison Smith vs. QB Patrick Mahomes

Two-time Super Bowl Champion Patrick Mahomes will be coming to Minneapolis in Week 5 for his first game against the Vikings.

This will also be the Chiefs first time visiting U.S. Bank Stadium since its opening in 2016.

It goes without saying that Mahomes is the top concern on Kansas City's roster; when the two-time NFL and Super Bowl MVP – whose father played at the Metrodome with the Minnesota Twins – is in the huddle, you know anything can happen.

Harrison Smith may not be a spring chicken anymore, but he's the type of savvy vet that will be imperative to studying Mahomes' game and anticipating his moves inside – and outside – the pocket.

Smith has 34 career interceptions but hasn't yet snagged one in either of two games against the Chiefs.

Week 7 vs. 49ers: T Brian O'Neill vs. DE Nick Bosa

The Niners are coming to town, and the Vikings o-line knows what that means.

San Francisco has one of the league's top pass-rushing units, anchored by a dynamic Nick Bosa. The three-time Pro Bowler and 2022 Defensive Player of the Year finds ways to scream around the edges and take down opposing quarterbacks, leading the NFL in 2022 with 18.5 sacks.

While Bosa does switch sides from time to time and could become Christian Darrisaw's responsibility on a handful of snaps, he most often rushes from the left side – creating a challenge for Vikings right tackle Brian O'Neill.

O'Neill has established himself as one of the top tackles, and he'll have the opportunity to showcase that Week 7 against San Francisco's golden rusher.

Week 9 at Falcons: LBs Jordan Hicks & Brian Asamoah II vs. RB Bijan Robinson

Robinson has yet to play an NFL game at the time of this article. But the eighth overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft promises to be something special.

The Falcons snagged Robinson the earliest a team has drafted a running back since Saquon Barkley went No. 2 in 2018.

Vikings inside linebackers Jordan Hicks and Brian Asamoah II could have their hands full with Robinson, who racked up 1,580 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns on the ground for Texas last season. Atlanta ranked third in the NFL with 2,718 rushing yards last season.

Week 10 vs. Saints: TE T.J. Hockenson vs. S Tyrann Mathieu

The 2023 season marks Tyrann Mathieu's second in New Orleans and T.J. Hockenson's first full campaign in Minnesota after joining the team via trade last November.

"The Honey Badger" hasn't lost a step, and he'll be a big addition to the Saints backfield. The Vikings have a plethora of pass catchers at their disposal, and it's likely he matches up with Hockenson at some point.

Hockenson quickly became a reliable target of Kirk Cousins', and he can be a game changer. So can Mathieu, though, who nabbed three interceptions last season and will be on the lookout for more.

Keep your head – and those long locks – on a swivel, T.J.

Week 11 at Broncos: QB Kirk Cousins vs. S Justin Simmons

When the Vikings visit Denver in November, Cousins will be going up against Justin Simmons, who tied for the NFL lead in interceptions last season.

The Broncos had their share of struggles in 2022, but Simmons leads a competent secondary which will be looking to bounce back in a big way.

Cousins, though, is confident in the Vikings offense and will be hearing the same signal caller in his helmet for the second year in a row for … get this … the first time since joining Minnesota in 2018, which actually included a Vikings preseason debut in Denver.

Week 14 at Raiders: Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell vs. Raiders Head Coach Josh McDaniels

Hello, old friend.

Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and Raiders Head Coach Josh McDaniels will pit their teams against each other late in the season.

The two coaches go back a long way, with McDaniels serving as O'Connell's quarterback coach with the Patriots in 2008.

McDaniels had one other head coaching opportunity along the way, leading the Broncos in 2009 and part of 2010, but he then served in coordinator roles until 2022; he took over as Las Vegas' head coach last season as O'Connell stepped into his first head coach role in Minnesota.

The Raiders finished 6-11 under McDaniels, while O'Connell led the Vikings to a 13-4 finish and Wild Card appearance.

Week 15 at Bengals: WR Justin Jefferson "vs." WR Ja'Marr Chase

I couldn't help it.

This is the only "matchup" included in which both parties are on the same side of the ball. But when former LSU stars and teammates Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase share a stadium together … you know special things likely will happen.

League-leading Jefferson (1,809) comfortably led Chase (1,046) in receiving yards last season, but Chase scored nine receiving touchdowns to Jefferson's eight. In 2021, Jefferson and Chase totaled 1,616 and 1,455 receiving yards, respectively, for second and fourth in the league. They also combined for 23 touchdowns.

You know each wideout will want to outshine the other, so keep your eyes on this matchup.