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Vikings 2018 Schedule Icebreakers: Opening at Home, Plus Facing Packers, Bills & Rams

The Vikings announced their 2018 schedule on Thursday. The Vikings.com crew will break down the 16-game slate into four quarters during this Icebreakers series that is presented by Ticketmaster.

First Quarter | Second Quarter | Third Quarter | Fourth Quarter

We'll start with a quick look at the first four games of the season. Minnesota will have a home game in Week 1 for the second straight season and host a San Francisco squad that closed 2017 on a hot streak. The Vikings will visit Lambeau Field for a September game for the first time since 2008 before hosting the Bills for the first time since 2010.

The Vikings will open the action in Week 4 by visiting the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football.

Week 1

Vikings vs. 49ers by @PCraigers

Noon (CT) | Sept. 9 | U.S. Bank Stadium

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 22-23-1 (includes 1-4 in playoff games)

Home: 14-9; Away: 8-14-1 (1-3 in playoff games)

Last time in regular season:49ers defeated Vikings 20-3 on Sept. 14, 2015

Last time in regular season in Minnesota:Vikings defeated 49ers 24-13 on Sept. 23, 2012

San Francisco's 2017 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 5,587 (12th in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,662 (21st); Passing yards: 3,925 (9th); Points/game: 20.7 (20th); Sacks allowed/pass attempt percentage: 7.08 percent (19th); Interception rate: 2.47 percent (20th); Average time of possession: 28:44 (27th)

San Francisco's 2017 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 351.6 (24th); Rushing yards allowed/game: 116.3 (22nd); Passing yards allowed/game: 235.3 (22nd); Points allowed/game: 23.9 (25th); Sacks/pass attempt: 5.51 percent (26th); Interception rate: 1.84 percent (25th)

Icebreakers:The past three Vikings and 49ers regular-season meetings have occurred in Septembers (2009, 2012, 2015). … The Vikings have claimed five of the past seven games in the series, dating to Oct. 24, 1999. … Second-year Head Coach Kyle Shanahan was born in Minneapolis when his father, Mike, coached at the University of Minnesota. Shanahan was Washington's offensive coordinator from 2010-13 and overlapped with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was selected by the Redskins in 2012, for two seasons. … After starting the 2017 season 0-9, the 49ers won six of their final seven games. A major part of the surge was trading to acquire QB Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots. Garoppolo went 5-0 to close out the season, completing 120 of 178 passes (67.4 percent) for 1,560 yards. He threw seven touchdowns and five interceptions. The 49ers averaged 409.6 yards of offense in games started by Garoppolo. … Opponents ran the ball 491 times against the 49ers in 2017, the most rush attempts faced by any team. San Francisco rushed 408 times last season. … RB Carlos Hyde departed for Cleveland, but San Francisco signed former Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon in free agency. … The 49ers also made a splash on defense by signing three-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who started 99 of the 105 games he played in seven seasons with the Seahawks but suffered an Achilles injury in 2017. … Former Vikings punter Jeff Locke is competing with Bradley Pinion.

Week 2

Vikings at Packers by@LindseyMNSports

Noon (CT) | Sept. 16 | Lambeau Field

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 53-60-2 (includes 1-1 in the postseason)

Home: 28-28-0; Away: 25-32-2

Last time in regular season:Vikings defeated Packers 16-0 at Green Bay on Dec. 23, 2017

Last time in regular season in Minnesota:Vikings defeated Packers 23-10 at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 15, 2017

Green Bay's 2017 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 4,891 (26th in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,724 (17th); Passing yards: 3,167 (25th); Points/game: 20 (21st); Sacks allowed/pass attempt percentage: 9.07 percent (27th); Interception rate: 3.20 percent (27th); Average time of possession: 28:47 (26th)

Green Bay's 2017 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 348.9 (22nd); Rushing yards allowed/game: 112.1 (17th); Passing yards allowed/game: 236.8 (23rd); Points allowed/game: 24 (26th); Sacks/pass attempt: 7.21 percent (10th); Interception rate: 2.14 percent (19th)

Icebreakers:This year's road matchup against Green Bay will mark the 60th time the Vikings play at Lambeau Field. … In the teams' last meeting at the historical stadium, the Vikings held the Packers scoreless for the first time since 1971. … The Packers are returning Davante Adams, who led the team in receiving last season with 74 catches for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns. … Across the border, Adam Thielen led the Vikings with 1,276 yards and four touchdowns on 91 receptions. … In 2017, the Packers defensively ranked second-to-last in fourth-down percentage (80) and red zone percentage (65.2). … Green Bay's special teams stood out on punt return coverage, ranking sixth in the league by allowing just 5.7 yards per return. … The Packers will be led by two new coordinators, with former head coaches Mike Pettine and Joe Philbin overseeing the defense and offense, respectively.

Week 3

Vikings vs. Bills by @PCraigers

Noon (CT) | Sept. 23 | U.S. Bank Stadium

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 8-5-0

Home: 4-1; Away: 4-4

Last time in regular season:Bills defeated Vikings 17-16 on Oct. 19, 2014

Last time in regular season in Minnesota:Vikings defeated Bills 38-14 on Dec. 5, 2010

Buffalo's 2017 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 4,842 (29th in NFL); Rushing yards: 2,017 (6th); Passing yards: 2,825 (31st); Points/game: 18.9 (22nd); Sacks allowed/pass attempt percentage: 5.40 percent (30th); Interception rate: 2.10 percent (10th); Average time of possession: 28:06 (30th)

Buffalo's 2017 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 355.1 (26th); Rushing yards allowed/game: 124.6 (29th); Passing yards allowed/game: 230.5 (20th); Points allowed/game: 22.4 (18th); Sacks/pass attempt:  4.71 percent (31st); Interception rate: 3.14 percent (9th)

Icebreakers:These teams met in Buffalo last August to open the 2017 preseason and the Sean McDermott era in Buffalo. McDermott went 9-7 in his debut season, and Buffalo ended its drought of postseason appearances by making the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season. … Former Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier is in his second season as Bills defensive coordinator. The Bills defense ranked second in passing touchdowns allowed (14) and sixth in interceptions (18) last season. Opponents, however, combined for 22 rushing touchdowns (most in the league). … Buffalo was active out of the gate when free agency opened, signing QB AJ McCarron, DE Trent Murphy, DT Star Lotulelei, LB Julian Stanford and S Rafael Bush. The Bills also added free agent CB Vontae Davis and RB Chris Ivory before free agency. … Bills T Conor McDermott is the younger brother of Vikings LS Kevin McDermott.

Week 4

Vikings at Rams by@LindseyMNSports

7:20 p.m. (CT) | Sept. 27 | Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Series results

Vikings W-L-T: 27-16-2 (includes 5-2 in the postseason)

Home: 16-3-2; Away: 11-13-0

Last time in regular season:Vikings defeated Rams 24-7 at U.S. Bank Stadium on Nov. 19, 2017

Last time in regular season in Minnesota:Vikings defeated Rams 24-7 at U.S. Bank Stadium on Nov. 19, 2017

Rams 2017 offensive rankings:

Total yards: 5,784 (10th in NFL); Rushing yards: 1,953 (8th); Passing yards: 3,831 (10th); Points/game: 29.9 (1st); Sacks allowed/pass attempt percentage: 5.41 percent (9th); Interception rate: 1.35 percent (1st); Average time of possession: 30:06 (tied for 15th)

Rams 2017 defensive rankings:

Total yards allowed/game: 339.6 (19th); Rushing yards allowed/game: 122.4 (28th); Passing yards allowed/game: 217.2 (13th); Points allowed/game: 20.6 (12th); Sacks/pass attempt: 8.65 percent (4th); Interception rate: 3.24 percent (6th)

Icebreakers:This year's matchup will mark the fourth time the Vikings play the Rams in five seasons. … In the teams' most-recent meeting, the Vikings limited the Rams then-No. 1 offense to just 45 rushing yards, 209 net passing yards and a single touchdown. … Minnesota's defense held all Rams receivers to under 100 yards through the air; their leading receiver was Robert Woods, who recorded eight catches for 81 yards. … Woods remains with Los Angeles and in 2017 recorded 56 catches for 781 yards and five touchdowns. … Adam Thielen was Minnesota's leading receiver against the Rams last season, recording 123 yards and a touchdown off of six catches. … In 2017, the Rams ranked second and fourth in kickoff return (25 yards) and punt return average (10.2), respectively. … The Rams added a number of high-caliber free agents to their roster during the 2017 offseason, including DT Ndamukong Suh and cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Sam Shields. … Minnesota also will have a new starting defensive tackle in Sheldon Richardson, who will play at 3-technique alongside nose tackle Linval Joseph. … In 2017, the Rams defensively ranked 30th in rushing yards allowed per play (4.7) and tied for 24th in red zone percentage, allowing teams to score on 55.8 percent of trips inside the 20.

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