The NFL announced its 2020 schedule on Thursday night, with a set of games that presumes this fall will contain an element of normalcy that few could guarantee at this point.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter hypothesized on Thursday night the league could move as many as four weeks of the schedule to the end of the season, if coronavirus concerns force the NFL to start the season late. If that were to happen, the Vikings’ Week 5 matchup against the Seahawks on Oct. 11 could be their opening game, with their first-ever Week 1 game in Minnesota against the Packers moving to the end of the season. For now, the NFL continues to say it will start on Sept. 10.
The virus has no regard for the NFL’s place in American life, and much has to happen before fans can return to football stadiums for big regular-season matchups — including the Vikings’ first-ever Week 1 game in Minnesota against the Packers — by September. But as the league signals for now it plans to start on time, we’ll play along with the NFL’s premise and indulge in a look ahead toward the new football season. Here is a game-by-game breakdown of the schedule for the Vikings’ 60th season in 2020:
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Week 1 noon, sept. 13 (fox)
The Vikings have gone to Lambeau Field for Week 1 games six times in their history; this is the first time they will play at home against the Packers, who won at U.S. Bank Stadium last December after three losses there. The early reactions to news about this matchup centered on the possibility there won’t be fans in the stands, and it’s a reasonable concern: the Vikings’ considerable home-field advantage owes plenty to their raucous fans.
Week 2 noon, sept. 20 (FOX)
This will be the Vikings’ first trip to Indianapolis since 2012, when they lost to the Colts by a field goal in Week 2. They’ll face a revamped Colts team that’s now trusting its offense to former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who is reunited with coach Frank Reich after their time together in San Diego.
Week 3 noon, sept. 27 (FOx)
Tennessee reached the AFC Championship Game using a run-heavy offense last season, and this year’s Titans-Vikings matchup could be a showdown between Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook, as both teams try to assert themselves on the ground.
Week 4 Noon, oct. 4 (Fox)
The Vikings’ young secondary will be in for a number of tough tests on the road this year, and the trip to Houston represents one of the most notable, as Mike Zimmer gets his first chance to craft a defense aimed at stopping dynamic Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson.
Week 5 7:20 p.m. Oct. 11 (NBC)
The Vikings travel to Seattle for the third straight season, and after two Monday-night losses at CenturyLink Field, they’ll play the Seahawks this time on Sunday night. The good news for the Vikings — one of many teams to struggle with night games after trips to the West Coast — is that the fact the game is on Sunday, not Monday or Thursday, means it could be flexed out of prime time.
Week 6 noon, oct. 18 (FOX)
Atlanta started the 2019 season at U.S. Bank Stadium, when the Vikings needed to throw just 10 times in a 28-12 win. This year, they’ll face a Falcons team trying to keep things together after a 7-9 season last year. Todd Gurley, who gave the Vikings plenty of problems with the Rams in 2018, is with Atlanta now.
Week 8 noon, nov. 1 (fox)
After late-season trips to Green Bay from 2015-17 and Week 2 games at Lambeau Field in 2018 and 2019, the Vikings will head to Wisconsin, where they haven’t played in November since a 2013 tie there. Kirk Cousins, who led a furious Vikings comeback in a 2018 tie at Lambeau, will try to put together a better effort against the Packers than he had in the Vikings’ Week 2 loss in Green Bay last year.