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3 Week 1 Games for Vikings Fans to Watch

In addition to the excitement of Minnesota starting Week 1 at home for the first time since 2012, the scheduling of the game against New Orleans on Monday night means fans have a fully clear Sunday to look around the rest of the league.

Here are three games (involving five of the six NFC playoff teams from 2016) that the staff will have eyes on Sunday:


Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions | Noon (CT) | Ford Field

After going 13-3 and winning the NFC West in 2015, the Cardinals fell to 7-8-1 in 2016, despite leading the NFC in total defense (305.2 yards allowed per game) and the NFL with 48 sacks.

Carson Palmer is back and complemented by running back David Johnson (Cardinals single-season records for scrimmage yards 2,118 and rushing touchdowns 16). The dual-threat back opened last season with an NFL-record 15 straight games with 100-plus scrimmage yards.

Minneapolis native Larry Fitzgerald ranks third in NFL history with 1,125 receptions and eighth with 104 touchdown catches.

The Lions made the playoffs for the second time in three seasons thanks to multiple fourth-quarter comebacks in 2016.

Matthew Stafford led eight game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, the most by a QB in a season since 1970. He has passed for 4,000-plus yards in each of the past six seasons.

Lions running back Theo Riddick is another dual threat who had five receiving touchdowns in 2016, tying for the most among NFL running backs, and Riddick has the most receptions (133) by a running back since 2015.

Golden Tate (90-plus catches in three straight seasons), Marvin Jones, Jr., and tight end Eric Ebron are also back as receiving targets for Stafford.


Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers | 3:25 (CT) | Lambeau Field

The Seahawks have made the playoffs five straight seasons, and the Packers have made eight consecutive trips to the postseason.

Russell Wilson has recorded 56 wins in his first five seasons, tying Matt Ryan for the NFL record. Known for using his legs and his arm, Wilson had career highs in completions (353), attempts (546) and passing yards (4,219). Wilson's top two receiving targets are likely to be Doug Baldwin and tight end Jimmy Graham.

Former Packers running back Eddie Lacy is making his first return to Lambeau Field. Lacy had 1,100-plus rushing yards in each of his first two seasons but totaled 1,118 in the past two seasons.

Seattle's defensive core in the linebackers and secondary remains strong, and the Seahawks recently acquired defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in a trade with the Jets.

Aaron Rodgers led the NFL with 40 touchdowns in 2016, becoming the fourth QB in NFL history with multiple 40-plus touchdown seasons. His career passer rating is 104.1, the best in league history.

Jordy Nelson (2016 NFL Comeback Player of the Year), Davante Adams and Randall Cobb are all back with the Pack and have been joined by tight end Martellus Bennett, who has 50-plus catches in four straight seasons.


New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys | 7:30 p.m. (CT) | AT&T Stadium

The Cowboys won the NFC East with a 13-3 mark in 2016 but went 0-2 against the Giants last season.

Giants QB Eli Manning ranks eighth in NFL history with 48,214 passing yards and seventh with 320 touchdown passes. He is one of seven NFL players to complete 4,000-plus passes.

Odell Beckham, Jr., has 288 receptions, which is tied with his former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry for the most by a player in his first three seasons. Sterling Shepard is back for his second season, and the Giants added Brandon Marshall, who ranks third among active players in career receptions (941) and second in receiving yards (12,061).

Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon combined for 15.5 sacks in 2016.

Dak Prescott's 13 wins as a rookie tied for the most in NFL history. His 0.9 percent interception percentage was the lowest by a rookie QB in NFL history, and his 104.9 passer rating was the best by a rookie.

Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing, and his 1,631 yards were the third-highest total by a rookie in NFL history.

Tight end Jason Witten has caught 60 passes in his 13th consecutive season. He ranks third among active players with 11,888 receiving yards, and Witten's 1,089 receptions are second all-time among tight ends.

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