The NFL unveiled its 2019 regular season schedule on Wednesday night, an annual event that always inspires conversation and projection. Here are six observations from the Vikings 2019 regular-season schedule.
1. Home is where the season begins … and ends
For the third consecutive season, the Vikings will begin the regular season at home. The NFL is a routine-craved League, so starting the season with a home game at noon is desirable. Also, the Vikings will conclude their regular season schedule with a home game against the Bears for the fifth time in six seasons. In fact, the Vikings close the regular season with two consecutive divisional games, hosting Green Bay in Week 16 and Chicago the following week. That's not a bad draw at all, particularly if they are in a playoff chase coming down the stretch.
2. Tough prime-time schedule
The schedule makers were not as kind to the Vikings when it came to prime-time games. All five of the Vikings scheduled prime-time games fall in the second half of the season, including three in the season's final month; two of those three (at Seahawks, at Chargers) are on the road. The Vikings even have back-to-back prime-time games, traveling to Los Angeles for a Sunday Night Football showdown with the Chargers and then returning home to host the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.
3. Fast start would yield plenty of optimism
A fast start for the Vikings in 2019 will not go unnoticed. In the first five weeks, the Vikings play three road contests (at Packers, at Bears, at Giants), two divisional games (Packers, Bears) and one offseason darling (Raiders). Racking up wins in this stretch will instill confidence in the team, build hype among the fan base and command respect from the rest of the League.
4. Divisional schedule is favorable
In quirky fashion, the Vikings will travel to see all three divisional foes before they host one of them; the last time this was the case for the Vikings was in 1972. This is particularly favorable for the Vikings because two of those foes (Bears, Packers) play in outdoor stadiums where the playing surface is suspect later in the season. It's also favorable because who wouldn't want all three of their divisional games in December to be at home?
5. Extreme weather shouldn't be a factor
Chicago and Green Bay represent possible cold-weather games in December, but the Vikings travel to those cities in September. Kansas City can be sweltering in September and freezing in December, but the Vikings travel to play the Chiefs in early November. Los Angeles can be too hot early in the season, but it will be a welcome reprieve from the cold when the Vikings travel there in December. All-in-all, it appears as if the Vikings have a very good chance of avoiding playing in any type of extreme temperatures.
6. Finally! Zimmer gets a home Thursday night game on a short week
For the first time in Mike Zimmer's tenure, the Vikings have been slated to host a Thursday night game against an opponent on a short week. The Vikings did host the Dallas Cowboys on a Thursday night in 2016, but it was the week after Thanksgiving so the Cowboys had a full week to prepare. This time, their Thursday night guest will be the Washington Redskins, who will likely be featuring former Viking Adrian Peterson in the backfield and who will be facing their former quarterback – Kirk Cousins – for the first time.