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Vikings 2017 Schedule Icebreakers: Season's First Quarter Features 3 Home Games

The Vikings announced their **2017 regular-season schedule**on Thursday. is breaking down the four quarters of opponents this season, starting with the home opener against New Orleans, the rare roadie to Pittsburgh and a two-game homestand against Tampa Bay and Detroit.

Week 1

Vikings vs. Saintsby @pcraigers

6:10 p.m. CT | Monday, Sept. 11 | U.S. Bank Stadium

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 20-11-0

Home: 12-3; Away: 8-8

Last time in regular season:Vikings lost 20-9 in New Orleans on Sept. 21, 2014

Last time in regular season in Minnesota:Vikings lost 42-20 on Dec. 18, 2011

New Orleans' 2016 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 6,816 (1st in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,742 (16th); Passing yards: 5,074 (1st); Points/game: 29.3 (2nd); Sacks allowed/pass play percentage: 4.01 percent (5th); Interception rate: 2.23 percent (16th); Average time of possession: 30:57 (7th)

New Orleans' 2016 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 375.4 (27th); Rushing yards allowed/game: 101.6 (14th); Passing yards allowed/game: 273.8 (32nd); Points allowed/game: 28.4 (31st); Sacks/pass play: 5.15 percent (27th); Interception rate: 1.55 percent (27th)

Icebreakers:New Orleans was the only team in the NFL to average more than 300 passing yards per game in 2016. Drew Brees threw for 350 or more yards six times in 2016, including 465 against Carolina in October and 423 against Oakland to open last season. … The Saints ranked fourth in the NFL in offensive red zone percentage, scoring touchdowns on 45 of their 68 possessions (66.2 percent) inside an opponent's 20-yard line. The Vikings defense tied for 15th in the NFL, allowing 24 touchdowns on 44 possessions (54.5 percent) by foes. … New Orleans traded Brandin Cooks (215 catches, 2,861 yards and 20 touchdowns in three seasons) to New England, along with a fourth-round pick to acquire picks in the first and third rounds. The Saints added WR Ted Ginn, Jr. during free agency. … DE Cameron Jordan, son of former Vikings Legend Steve Jordan, has recorded at least 7.5 sacks in each of the past five seasons and garnered two Pro Bowls.

Week 2

Vikings at Steelersby @EricLSmith

Noon | Sunday, Sept. 17 | Heinz Field

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 9-8

Home: 4-2; Away: 4-5; Neutral 1-1

Last time in regular season:Vikings defeated Steelers 34-27 on Sept. 29, 2013, in London

Last time in regular season in Pittsburgh:Steelers defeated Vikings 27-17 on Oct. 25, 2009

Pittsburgh's 2016 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 5,962 (7th in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,760 (14th); Passing yards: 4,202 (t-5th); Points/game: 24.9 (t-10th); Sacks allowed/pass play percentage: 3.52 percent (2nd); Interception rate: 2.52 percent (20th); Average time of possession: 30:22 (16th)

Pittsburgh's 2016 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 342.6 (12th); Rushing yards allowed/game: 100.0 (13th); Passing yards allowed/game: 242.6 (16th); Points allowed/game: 20.4 (10th); Sacks/pass play: 6.44 percent (11th); Interception rate: 2.20 percent (17th)

Icebreakers:The Vikings have lost three of their past four games against Pittsburgh, but won the most recent contest, which was played in London. … Minnesota has not played in Pittsburgh since the 2009 season. … The teams have met once in the postseason, a 16-6 Pittsburgh win in Super Bowl IX. … The Steelers went 11-5, won the AFC North in 2016 and reached the AFC Championship Game. … Pittsburgh's offense is led by the trio of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. … Roethlisberger threw for 3,819 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2016 while Bell ran for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games. Brown had 106 catches for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns. … Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, a former Vikings assistant coach, is 103-67 as a head coach and has an 8-6 record in the postseason. He won Super Bowl XLIII in his second season as Pittsburgh's coach.

Week 3

Vikings vs. Buccaneersby @LindseyMNSports

Noon | Sunday, Sept. 24 | U.S. Bank Stadium

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 32-22-0

Home: 18-9-0; Away: 14-13-0

Last time in regular season:Vikings defeated Buccaneers 19-13 in overtime at Tampa Bay on Oct. 26, 2014* *

Last time in regular season in Minnesota:Vikings lost 36-17 to Buccaneers on Oct. 25, 2012

Tampa Bay's 2016 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 5,542 (18th in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,616 (24th); Passing yards: 3,926 (16th); Points/game: 22.1 (tied for 18th); Sacks allowed/pass play percentage: 6.06 percent (16th); Interception rate: 3.11 percent (26th); Average time of possession: 30:32 (tied for 11th)

Tampa Bay's 2016 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 367.9 (23rd); Rushing yards allowed/game: 117.2 (22nd); Passing yards allowed/game: 250.8 (22nd); Points allowed/game: 23.1 (15th); Sacks/pass play: 6.93 percent (9th); Interception rate: 3.10 percent (3rd)

Icebreakers:This year's matchup will be the first time Minnesota plays Tampa Bay since 2014. … The Vikings roster looks quite different from that game, during which Cordarrelle Patterson and Chase Ford led the team in receiving. … Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans led the team with six catches for 61 yards in the teams' most recent meeting … Evans remains with Tampa Bay and in 2016 recorded 96 catches for 1,321 yards. … In 2016, the Bucs ranked first in the NFL for goal-to-go percentage (85.71) and sixth for third-down percentage (43.93). … Tampa Bay was last for kickoff return average (14.6), while Minnesota was first (27.3). … Both teams will have different kickers this season than they had in the 2014 game. … Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was in his first season at the helm in 2014, and the Buccaneers were led by Lovie Smith, who was replaced prior to the 2016 season by Head Coach Dirk Koetter … In the Vikings last game against the Buccaneers, linebacker Anthony Barr recovered a Bucs fumble and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown to give Minnesota the win in overtime.

Week 4

Vikings vs. Lionsby @pcraigers

Noon | Sunday, Oct. 1 | U.S. Bank Stadium

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 71-38-2

Home: 39-15-1; Away: 32-23-1

Last time in regular season:Lions defeated Vikings 16-13 last Thanksgiving (Nov. 24)

Last time in regular season in Minnesota:Lions defeated Vikings 22-16 in overtime on Nov. 6, becoming first road team to win at U.S. Bank Stadium

Detroit's 2016 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 5,421 (21st in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,310 (30th); Passing yards: 4,111 (11th); Points/game: 21.6 (20th); Sacks allowed/pass play percentage: 6.23 percent (18th); Interception rate: 1.68 percent (10th); Average time of possession: 29:54 (20th)

Detroit's 2016 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 5,676 (18th); Rushing yards allowed/game: 1,701 (18th); Passing yards allowed/game: 3,975 (19th); Points allowed/game: 22.4 (13th); Sacks/pass play: 4.74 percent (30th); Interception rate: 1.82 percent (25th)

Icebreakers:The longstanding series has been swept in each of the past three seasons, with the Lions claiming two matchups in 2014 and in 2016 and the Vikings claiming both meetings in 2015. … The Vikings signed former Lions tackle Riley Reiff in free agency. The 2012 first-round pick started 69 of the 77 games he played for Detroit in five seasons. …  The Lions brought in free agent offensive linemen T.J. Lang and Ricky Wagner in free agency. … Eight of Detroit's nine wins occurred after fourth-quarter comebacks in 2016, including both games against Minnesota. … The 2016 Lions started 9-4 before losing the final three games of the regular season as well as their Wild Card game against Seattle. … In addition to orchestrating the comebacks, Matthew Stafford threw the fewest interceptions of his career (10) in a season in which he started at least 10 games, improving his interception rate from 2.2 in 2015 to 1.7 in 2016.

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