The Vikings open their regular season schedule today against the Buccaneers. Here’s how I see the outcome of every game on the 2023 schedule.
Week 1: It was a dream come true for the Bucs to have Tom Brady in his “golden years.” Post-GOAT era, not so good. The Vikings will win by 12 today. Record: 1-0.
Week 2: The Vikes go prime time later this week playing in Philly Thursday night. The Eagles are legit Super Bowl contenders, but the Vikings make it close in a four-point loss. No shame in losing to Jalen Hurts who could be the NFL MVP. Record: 1-1.
Week 3: The Vikings have been playing in the NFL since 1961 but Minnesota and the Chargers have only met 13 times. In their first matchup ever at U.S. Bank Stadium the Chargers are sluggish from their West Coast trek and lose by a touchdown in the September 24 game. Record: 2-1.
Week 4: Word is the Panthers will be a so-so team this fall but Carolina fans are applauding during this October 1 game when WR Adam Thielen puts the Panthers ahead in the second half with a touchdown reception. But it’s not a great reunion for the former Vikings hero after the Purple, taking advantage of mistakes by rookie QB Bryce Young, win in overtime. Record: 3-1.
Week 5: Brian Flores’ defense has been turning heads with its play the first four weeks but not on October 8 when the Chiefs play their first game ever at U.S. Bank Stadium. That quarterback seen in all those TV commercials befuddles the Vikings and the Chiefs win by 21. Record: 3-2.
Week 6: Vikings players are likely privately pleased they don’t have to visit the Windy City late in the season. This October 15 game, however, is no fun for Minnesota as new Bears linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards cause havoc with Kirk Cousins and friends in a six-point Chicago upset. Record: 3-3.
Week 7: In an October 23 Monday night matchup in Minneapolis, the 49ers show why they could meet the Bengals or Chiefs in the Super Bowl next winter. The San Francisco defense harasses Cousins and his receivers, while the 49er offense, led by RB Christian McCaffrey, having his best NFL season ever, puts up 28 points in a 10-point win. Record: 3-4.
Week 8: Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander and Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson are singing kumbaya before the game, but J.J. is humming Skol Vikings at the finish. Not only does Jefferson get the best of his outspoken rival, but the Vikings defense has one of its best games confusing new starting Packers QB Jordan Love in this October 29 matchup in Green Bay. Record: 4-4.
Week 9: The Falcons have a terrific runner in rookie Bijan Robinson but the passing attack is toothless even playing at home November 5 against Minnesota. The Vikings have one of their better days so far on offense, with rookie WR Jordan Addison having a big day as the Vikings win by 20 points. Record: 5-4.
Week 10: The Saints come marching into Minneapolis November 12 and former New Orleans defensive end Marcus Davenport has a two-sack day against his old team. It’s not enough, though, because the vulnerable Vikings secondary is missing injured players and talented Saints WRs Michael Thomas and Chris Olave produce explosive gains in a 9-point New Orleans victory. Record: 5-5.
Week 11: On November 19 the Vikings play in Denver for the first time since 2015 and they haven’t won there since 1999. That changes this year in a shoot-out in the west as comeback quarterback Russell Wilson causes problems, but Cousins and his key pass catchers have several touchdown receptions. However, it’s RB Alexander Mattison who scores on a swing pass in the closing minute to give the Purple a one-point win. Record: 6-5.
Week 12: November 27 will be the 17th time the Vikings and Bears have played on a Monday Night (the most ever MNF opponent for the Purple). U.S. Bank is rocking as usual and Bears QB Justin Fields looks to run when his first read isn’t there. The Vikings defense contains Fields, and the Minnesota offense puts up four touchdowns in a revenge win by 18 points. Record: 7-5.
Week 14: After a bye week, the Vikings play the Raiders for the first time in Las Vegas. This is no gamble, playing in Vegas on December 10 against a Raiders team having another poor season. Mattison rushes for a career-high 140 yards and the score is so one-sided Cousins back up Nick Mullens plays against his old team. Record: 8-5.
Week 15: The game date is TBA but wondering if former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will leave his nearby Kentucky ranch and sneak in the backdoor at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati? Cousins threw for 351 yards in a 27-24 overtime loss in 2021 in Cincy. The game turns into a chess match between Flores and Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo who both are skilled at disguising and mixing up schemes. Bengals QB Joe Burrow wins the day for his Super Bowl favorite team as the Vikings lose 23-17. Record: 8-6.
Week 16: Better plan to open presents on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve, December 24, has the Vikings hosting the Lions, their main rival to repeat as NFC North Division champs. The last time the teams played in Minneapolis, Cousins, with 45 seconds remaining, threw the winning TD pass to WR K.J. Osborn in Week 3 of the 2022 season. At a magical time of year in 2023, guess what? Cousins and former Lion T.J. Hockenson beat Detroit in the closing minutes of the game. Record: 9-6.
Week 17: The Packers come to town and the Vikings play like they had too much eggnog, or maybe aquavit. It’s the first time since 2005 the Pack has been in Minneapolis without Aaron Rodgers and the Vikings find Love is much improved since the earlier meeting between the two teams. In the most disappointing loss of the season, the heavily favored Vikings lose by 5 points, but the game isn’t even that close. Record: 9-7.
Week 18: In Detroit Jefferson caps a year for the ages by having over 100 yards in receptions, a total that puts him past 2,000 yards for the season. He becomes the first receiver in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards during the regular season. That’s worth a festive celebration but a loss to the Lions isn’t. The Vikings, playing without several injured starters, suffer a two-touchdown loss to a Lions team that clinches the NFC North title. Game date TBA. Record: 9-8.
Recap: The Vikings don’t come close to last season’s record of 13-4 but luck into the playoffs with their mediocre record. How will they fare in the postseason? For that outlook, you have to wait until January.