EAGAN, Minn. — Minnesota is definitively North, but it's also centrally located.
That will help the Vikings with travel to a certain degree in 2018, when Minnesota and the other members of the NFC North are scheduled to play the NFC West and the AFC East.
Based on webflyer.com's air mileage calculator, the Vikings will travel 14,254 miles for eight regular-season road games.
That total is 2,644 more than the Vikings traveled in 2016 but 2,860 fewer than 2017's total, which was inflated by Minnesota's 8,000-mile roundtrip from MSP to London's Heathrow Airport.
Each year, a team's travel mileage fluctuates based on the way the schedule rotates.
It is the Vikings turn to visit the Rams and Seahawks (both came to Minnesota in 2015) of the NFC West and the Jets and Patriots of the AFC East (both visited in 2014).
Conversely, the Vikings will host the 49ers and Cardinals (Minnesota was the visitor for those 2015 matchups) from the NFC West and the Bills and Dolphins from the AFC East (Minnesota visited both in 2014).
The Vikings again will have home-and-away division games with Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit.
The other two games on Minnesota's schedule are hosting New Orleans (it is the Vikings turn to host the NFC South team that had the same divisional order of finish) and visiting Philadelphia (it is the Vikings turn to visit the NFC East team that had the same divisional order of finish).
The Vikings will play the Rams in Los Angeles for the first time since Nov. 29, 1992.
Vikings Director of Operations-Team Travel Luther Hippe started with the Vikings in 1993, so the trip to the West Coast is providing unchartered water.
The NFL's decision to place the Vikings-Rams contest on a Thursday, however, threw a Clayton Kershaw curveball at the plans.
"L.A. is unknown to a lot of people," Hippe said. "A lot of teams are going there for the first time [with current travel personnel]. We would have been in pretty great shape if it were a Sunday game, because [a hotel manager who has hosted multiple] visiting teams said he had 12 weekends held, so about three-fourths of the time, you're going to hit and be fine.
"Then, you threw the Thursday at him, and that one is a bad one," Hippe said. "We're scrambling on the logistics right now."
Hippe said another rare trip — the Vikings first to New England since 2010 and eighth ever — is another "problem child" because of a lack of full-service hotels convenient to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
"They don't have six or eight full-service hotels in the area. They have two or three unless you want to drive to Boston," Hippe said.
On Friday afternoon, a 30-mile trip from central Boston was expected to take an hour. That might not be as bad on a Sunday.
That game is scheduled for 3:25 p.m. (CT) and technically falls within the window of flex scheduling but is unlikely to be moved from that time slot.
Two weeks earlier, the Vikings are scheduled to play the Bears at noon (CT) on Nov. 18. Hippe and the Vikings staff will be prepared for any changes.
"You think they're never going to move that, 'Well, be careful,' " Hippe said. "I have to hold it until 5 o'clock at night."
As it stands right now, the Vikings have two road night games and two others with 3:25 p.m. (CT) start times. The night games can create a little bit of a time crunch for teams and hotel staff, but properties are able to find a benefit.
"It's hurry-up-and-wait for these night games, but the hotels don't mind as much because you're eating three times," Hippe said.
View the Vikings 2018 schedule in photos.
2018 Roundtrip air mileage for the Vikings (according to webflyer.com):
Week 2 | Green Bay 502
Week 4 | Los Angeles Rams 3,060
Week 5 | Philadelphia 1,954
Week 7 | New York Jets 2,000
Week 11 | Chicago 666
Week 13 | New England 2,240
Week 14 | Seattle 2,780
Week 16 | Detroit 1,052
Regular-season total: 14,254
Preseason 1 | Denver 1,358
Preseason 4 | Tennessee 1,388
Preseason total: 2,746
Preseason and regular-season total: 17,000