View the 2015 Vikings schedule in photos.
The Vikings 2015 schedule has been released. Now that we know all the details of where and when the games will be played, it's time to drill a bit deeper on the matchups (click here for threats in home games).
In addition to holding serve in friendly confines, teams must be able to prevail in hostile conditions. With that in mind, here's a look at some of the top non-QB threats the Vikings will face on the road in two preseason and eight regular season games in 2015:
Dallas: G Zack Martin
In trying to be a little less obvious than receiving threats Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, we chose Martin, who earned All-Pro status as a rookie. After playing tackle at Notre Dame, Martin slid to right guard to start all 16 for the Cowboys and give Dallas one of the most impactful offensive lines in 2014. In addition to Martin, left tackle Tyron Smith also was named All-Pro, and center Travis Frederick joined Martin and Smith as Pro Bowlers. This game occurs when starters usually see the most action in the preseason, often going into the third quarter, so Martin and the o-line could be a good litmus test for Minnesota's d-line.
Tennessee: DT Jurrell Casey
Starters don't play too much in the final preseason game for multiple reasons, but if Casey is in the lineup, he will be looking to wreck every play he can. Casey showed ability to penetrate with power or quickness in a 4-3 defensive tackle in his first three seasons, culminating with 10.5 sacks in 2013. He'll continued to be an important player for the Titans as they continue transitioning to a 3-4 base defense.
San Francisco: LB NaVorro Bowman
With the retirements of linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, the 49ers are likely to look to Bowman for big things in 2015. The three-time All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowler missed all of the 2014 season while rehabbing ACL and MCL injuries he suffered in the NFC Championship that followed the 2013 season.
Denver: WR Demaryius Thomas
A big target (6-foot-3, 229 pounds) capable of breaking loose and hitting stride, Thomas should pose challenges for every team on the Broncos slate. The Peyton Manning era in Denver has been quite favorable for Thomas, who has totaled 297 catches for 4,483 yards and 35 touchdowns and made three straight Pro Bowls. Last season, Thomas posted two of the 12 games in which a receiver had 170 or more yards (226 against Arizona and 171 against San Francisco).
Detroit: DE Ezekial "Ziggy" Ansah
Ansah showed the impact he can make the first time the Vikings and Lions met last season by recording a career-high 2.5 sacks, and Minnesota responded in the second matchup two months and two days later in limiting him to one tackle. This year's slate pits the division foes against each other twice in the Vikings first six games.
Chicago: CB Kyle Fuller
Fuller, the 14th overall pick in '14, burst onto the scene with two interceptions in his second career game. He added a third the following week and recorded his fourth in the regular season finale against Minnesota on a deflected pass. Fuller nearly returned it 40 yards for a score, but officials reviewed the play and determined Teddy Bridgewater made a tackle at the Minnesota 9-yard line to prevent the TD.
Oakland: FB Marcel Reece
While his carries dipped to 21 (for 85 yards) in 2014, Reece caught 37 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown. Listed at 6-1 and 250 pounds, Reece is two handfuls and then some when deployed as a lead blocker. It will be interesting to see how he works with the Raiders running backs that include emerging talent Latavius Murray (82 carries for 424 yards, including a 90-yard TD) and free agent additions Roy Helu, Jr. and Trent Richardson.
Atlanta: WR Julio Jones
Jones' threat is as significant as his 6-4, 220-pound frame. He bounced back from missing 11 games in 2013 to making all but one in 2014. Jones posted 104 receptions for 1,593 yards and six touchdowns last season, highlighted by a 259-yard, 11-catch outing against Green Bay. Last season, the Vikings limited Jones to 82 yards on six catches a week after he went for 161 and two TDs on nine grabs against the Buccaneers.
Arizona: DE Calais Campbell
Crowd noise and players skilled at pass rush can be a test for offensive linemen on the road. The folks on-hand for *Thursday Night Football *should be pretty lively. Campbell has shown consistent production in his past six years as a starter, recording at least 6.0 sacks each season. He has 16 sacks in his past 30 games and 43.5 total.
Green Bay: LB Clay Matthews
After spending his first five pro seasons as an edge rusher, Matthews moved to inside linebacker for part of the 2014 season to help the Packers defense. With 7.0 of his 61 career sacks recorded against Minnesota, the five-time Pro Bowler is no stranger to Vikings fans. This year's series is poised for a new wrinkle, one that could pit brother against brother (likely not on the field at the same time), with Minnesota's signing of Casey Matthews, who has played for inside and outside linebacker for Philadelphia.