We've finally arrived. The 16-game journey begins now.
After months of an offseason that included free agency, the draft, minicamp practices, a two-week training camp stay in Mankato and a quartet of preseason games, the Vikings are ready to get things started for real.
Minnesota opens its 2016 season at noon (CT) Sunday on the road against the Tennessee Titans.
Tennessee is 5-27 over the past two seasons, but the Titans have won their past two season openers.
The Vikings will try to defend their NFC North title and get back to the playoffs for a second straight year after going 11-5 in 2015.
On the airwaves: The game will be broadcast by KMSP FOX 9 in the Twin Cities. Dick Stockton, Chris Spielman and Kristina Pink will be on the call. The game also will be broadcast on KFAN 100.3-FM and across the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network by the team of Paul Allen, Pete Bercich, Greg Coleman and Ben Leber.
Three things to watch:
Who will it be?— Lindsey Young
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer hasn't yet named a starting quarterback for Sunday's matchup at Tennessee. In addition to Shaun Hill, who was listed as the No. 2 quarterback behind Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings acquired 28-year-old Sam Bradford in a trade with the Eagles after Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury. Bradford had his first practice with Minnesota on Sept. 4, and he's been immersed in the playbook all week.
Each quarterback prepared as if he will be the starter for the season opener.
"You prepare yourself like you're going to be the one to go out there and start on Sunday," said Bradford, who has started all 63 NFL games he's played. "I think that's the only way that you can approach it."
Hill, entering his 15th NFL season, said a backup quarterback always maintains the mentality that he will be called upon to start at any time. The 2016 season will mark Hill's second consecutive season with the Vikings and in Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner's system.
Don't look ahead— Eric Smith
The Vikings have talked all week about staying focused on the task at hand. That includes a strong performance in Week 1, something that was missing during last season's 20-3 loss in San Francisco.
Minnesota gave up 230 rushing yards in the opener, and Adrian Peterson rushed for just 31 yards.
"I feel like the whole team struggled," Zimmer said. "We've tried to figure out what we didn't do good in that game and try to move on from there.
"It's a new year," he added. "I try to think about some of the things we did right during the season, too."
The Vikings play host to the rival Packers in a Week 2 prime time matchup in the regular-season opener at U.S. Bank Stadium. It'd be easy to look ahead to that contest, but Zimmer and the Vikings are taking things one week at a time.
Know the Tennessee Titans key contributors on offense, defense and special teams heading into the Vikings-Titans game Sunday.
Football starts up front— *Craig Peters *
The Vikings are returning a strong and deep group along their defensive line and will face a team looking to implement a physical rushing attack with the wrinkle of a quarterback in Marcus Mariota who rushed for an 87-yard touchdown as a rookie.
Mariota's mobility adds to the dynamic situation that the Vikings must manage on the road.
The Vikings have spent time and energy on their offensive line throughout the offseason. It will be interesting to see how the unit blends together.
— Vikings running back Adrian Peterson led the NFL with 1,485 rushing yards last season, the same amount that Tennessee had as a team.
— With Peterson winning the NFL rushing title last season, this game features the past two rushing champions. Tennessee's DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing in 2014 with 1,845 yards as a member of the Cowboys.
— Minnesota is 1-1 in season openers under Mike Zimmer. The Vikings are 30-24-1 in franchise history in openers.
— Vikings kicker Blair Walsh holds the franchise record for the longest field goal in a season opener. He made a 55-yard kick against Jacksonville as time expired to send the 2012 season opener to overtime. The Jaguars head coach that day was Mike Mularkey, who is now the Titans head coach.
"All the waiting's over. Now it's time to strap it on and make it count. We're just going out, trying to set our statement for the year and get this bad boy rollin'." — Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd on the start of the 2016 season.
Worth a watch
Get a head start on your weekend by checking out this week's "Words with Teammates" a popular segment on Vikings Connected, which airs at 10:30 p.m. tonight on CW23 in the Twin Cities.