EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer admitted Thursday that he allows himself to get a little excited each spring when the upcoming fall's regular season schedule is announced.
It will be another four-plus months before the third-year coach leads his team on the road to open for the third straight year, but he's looking forward to the opportunity.
"It's exciting because it kind of brings you a little bit closer to the season," Zimmer said. "Before we just knew who we were playing and were worrying about the draft, but now it's like, 'Well, here we go. It's time to kick it off.'
"It kind of brings another sense of urgency," he added.
FULL 2016 SCHEDULE
Week 1 | Sunday, Sept. 11 | at Tennessee Titans | Noon | FOX
Week 2 | Sunday, Sept. 18 | Green Bay Packers | 7:30 PM | NBC
Week 3 | Sunday, Sept 25 | at Carolina Panthers | Noon | FOX
Week 4 | Monday, Oct. 3 | New York Giants | 7:30 PM | ESPN
Week 5 | Sunday, Oct. 9 | Houston Texans | Noon* | CBS
Week 6 | BYE WEEK
Week 7 | Sunday, Oct. 23 | at Philadelphia Eagles | Noon* | FOX
Week 8 | Monday, Oct. 31 | at Chicago Bears | 7:30 PM | ESPN
Week 9 | Sunday, Nov. 6 | Detroit Lions | Noon* | FOX
Week 10 | Sunday, Nov. 13 | at Washington Redskins | Noon* | FOX
Week 11 | Sunday, Nov. 20 | Arizona Cardinals | Noon* | FOX
Week 12 | Thursday, Nov. 24 | at Detroit Lions | 11:30 AM | CBS
Week 13 | Thursday, Dec. 1 | Dallas Cowboys | 7:25 PM | NBC / NFLN
Week 14 | Sunday, Dec. 11 | at Jacksonville Jaguars | Noon* | FOX
Week 15 | Sunday, Dec. 18 | Indianapolis Colts | Noon* | CBS
Week 16 | Saturday, Dec. 24 | at Green Bay Packers | Noon* | FOX
Week 17 | Sunday, Jan. 1 | Chicago Bears | Noon* | FOX
Click here to view the full schedule as a PDF.
*Game-time subject to change due to flexible scheduling
There's still time to claim your seat at U.S. Bank Stadium in time for the exciting 2016 Vikings Season. Visit usbankstadium.com/seats today or call 952-918-8599 to get your seat before they're gone!
In 2015, Zimmer led Minnesota to its first NFC North title since 2009, guiding the team through an electrifying finish of three straight wins.
Minnesota's selection for four prime time games (one Sunday Night Football, two Monday Night Football, one Thursday Night Football), as well as Detroit's Thanksgiving Day opponent indicate the belief that the Vikings will be shown in at least five national broadcasts in the regular season.
"I think you earn these kind of opportunities to play in primetime games and in front of big crowds," Zimmer said. "We haven't earned it this year yet, but from what we did a year ago it seems like we've earned these opportunities."
On to the schedule breakdown (all times Central)…
Week 1:Sunday, Sept. 11 Vikings at Titans noon
Vikings will seek their first win in Nashville since 1998 when they defeated the Tennessee Oilers.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 18 Vikings vs. Packers 7:30 p.m.
U.S. Bank Stadium makes its regular-season debut by hosting the Border Battle on Sunday Night Football.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 25 Vikings at Panthers noon
Minnesota is one of two teams to beat Carolina in its past 20 regular season games.
Week 4: Monday, Oct. 3 Vikings vs. Giants 7:30 p.m.
The Vikings defeated the Giants 49-17 late last season and will try to claim their sixth win in eight meetings against the Giants.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9 Vikings vs. Texans noon*
Minnesota will try to improve to 4-0 all-time against the NFL's most recently added team (2002).
Week 6: Bye
The Vikings will have a bye before the midpoint of the season and with five division games remaining for a second straight year.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23 Vikings at Eagles noon*
Rested from the week off, the Vikings will begin their only stretch of the schedule with consecutive road games.
Week 8: Monday, Oct. 31 Vikings at Bears 7:30 p.m.
Teddy Bridgewater connected with Stefon Diggs and Charles Johnson for key receptions last season in Minnesota's first win at Soldier Field since 2007.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6 Vikings vs. Lions noon*
The Vikings will alternate home and away games the rest of the way, starting with division rival Detroit.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13 Vikings at Redskins noon*
Minnesota will aim for its third straight win over Washington.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20 Vikings vs. Cardinals noon*
This matchup of 2015 division champs is a rematch of a hot one in the desert that Arizona claimed last season.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 24 Vikings at Lions 11:30 a.m.
Twice in four games would be nice for the Vikings against the Lions. The team that has won the first game has swept the season series in four of the past five seasons. Minnesota is 5-1 all-time on Thanksgiving Day, including 2-1 against Detroit.
Week 13:Thursday, Dec. 1 Vikings vs. Cowboys 7:25 p.m.
U.S. Bank Stadium will make its Thursday Night Football debut by hosting teams that each played the previous Thursday.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11 Vikings at Jaguars noon*
Minnesota won its only previous trip to Jacksonville 33-12 in 2008.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18 Vikings vs. Colts noon*
The Colts edged the Vikings 18-15 in 2008 during their last trip to the Twin Cities.
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24 Vikings at Packers noon*
Each team will have faced 12 other opponents since their Week 2 marquee matchup.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1 Vikings vs. Bears noon*
Zimmer and Bridgewater capped 2014 with a home win against Chicago. Can they repeat the feat in their third season together?
"That will obviously be important," Zimmer said. "The division race will be tight, I'm sure. We'll be fighting until the end.
"It was kind of fun last year when we had that opportunity to play in Green Bay to win the division," Zimmer added. "I assume that if things go the way they should then we should be battling just like that again."
*--times subject to flexible scheduling procedures
Preseason finalized: Times and dates also have been set for the Vikings four-game preseason slate:
Friday, Aug. 12 Vikings at Bengals 6:30 p.m. (CT)
Thursday, Aug. 18 Vikings at Seahawks 9 p.m. (CT)
Sunday, Aug. 28 Vikings vs. Chargers noon (CT)
Thursday, Sept. 1 Vikings vs. Rams 7 p.m. (CT)
All Vikings preseason games are scheduled to be televised in the Twin Cities on FOX 9 KMSP. They also will air on KFAN/KTLK radio.
The Vikings-Chargers game to open U.S. Bank Stadium also will be televised nationally by FOX.