Minnesota Vikings 2021 Opponents: The Road Matchups
The Minnesota Vikings already know their 2021 opponents and destinations. They don’t know when the games will be played yet, but we can look ahead and have an idea of how difficult the schedule will be. The Vikings play their six division games, the AFC North, the NFC West, and then the third-place teams in the NFC East (Cowboys) and NFC South (Panthers). We already looked at their home matchups. Today we look at their road matchups.
Green Bay Packers: The Vikings have actually had decent success in Lambeau Field since Zimmer took over. They are 2-1-1 in their past four appearances including a 28-22 upset coming out of their bye week. The upset turned around a 1-5 start to the season and had the Vikings in the playoff conversation a week from Christmas.
Chicago Bears: Kirk Cousins got his first Monday Night Football victory when the Vikings beat the Bears 19-13 in 2020. The Vikings held the Nick Foles-led Bears to a paltry 149 yards of offense. Soldier Field has been tricky for the Vikings, though, as they have won five times there since 2000.
Detroit Lions: Minnesota ended the disappointing 2020 season with a 37-35 victory at Ford Field. The Vikings have won their last four games in Ford Field and five of the last six. The Lions are the little brother in the NFC North until they prove otherwise.
Baltimore Ravens: The Vikings beat the Ravens 24-16 at US Bank Stadium the last time the teams played. When they last played in Baltimore, however, the teams were involved in a 29-26 Ravens victory that saw five lead changes in the final two minutes of the game. Baltimore is a much different team since 2017 with the acquisition of Lamar Jackson. The Vikings will have their work cut out for them trying to stop the best rushing attack in the NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals: When the Bengals and Vikings last played, Minnesota handled them 34-7 and clinched their division. The last time the Bengals played in Cincinnati, Mike Zimmer was their defensive coordinator and the Bengals destroyed the Vikings 42-14. The Bengals may or may not have Joe Burrow back in 2021, but either way appear to be an inferior team to the Vikings.
Arizona Cardinals: The last time the Vikings traveled to Arizona, Minnesota was down Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr, and Harrison Smith on a Thursday night game in 2015. Both teams were going to the playoffs but the Cardinals entered the game as the favorite. The under-manned Vikings almost pulled the upset before a strip-sack by Dwight Freeney sealed the 30-23 Cardinals victory. Minnesota has won the past two matchups, though, and will face Kyler Murray for the first time. The two teams were in the race for the seventh playoff spot along with the Bears in 2020. It will be a difficult but winnable game for Minnesota.
San Francisco 49ers: Minnesota plays the 49ers for the first time since losing in the 2019 Divisional Round. Minnesota put up only 147 yards of offense while allowing 186 rushing yards. The Niners suffered numerous injuries in 2020 and that ultimately led to their demise. When healthy, though, they are the type of team that gives the Vikings problems. Their mammoth interior defensive line can overpower the smaller interior Vikings offensive line. DeForest Buckner doesn’t play for the Niners anymore, but his replacement Javon Kinlaw is entering his second season and stands 6-6, 310 pounds. To win games like this, Minnesota will need to keep bolstering their offensive and defensive lines.
Carolina Panthers: The Vikings escaped with a crazy victory over the Panthers late in 2020. The 28-27 victory came after two fumbles for touchdowns, a muffed punt, and a missed field goal as time expired. Carolina brings back coach Matt Rhule for a second season, and they hope to get more from their 21st ranked offense. Former Viking Teddy Bridgewater was benched in week 17, and while it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him under center when the teams face off in 2021, he isn’t a slam dunk. This is one of the more favorable matchups of the Minnesota Vikings 2021 road opponents.