The Minnesota Vikings started their 2023 season with a disappointing loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home, ending their streak of winning Week 1 games with fans in attendance since 2005. The Vikings now face a tough challenge to bounce back and get back on track for the playoffs, as they have a brutal schedule ahead of them. The Vikings need to be at least 4-4 by Halloween, or they risk falling behind in the NFC North and the wild card race.
Vikings Face a Daunting Road Trip in Week 2
The Vikings have little time to dwell on their loss, as they have to travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles on Thursday night. The Eagles are one of the favorites to win the NFC and reach the Super Bowl, as they have a loaded roster led by quarterback Jalen Hurts and defensive end Brandon Graham. The Eagles nearly won the Super Bowl last year, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in a thrilling game.
The Vikings have not fared well against the Eagles in recent years, losing four of their last five meetings, including the infamous 38-7 blowout in the 2017 NFC Championship Game. The Vikings will need to play much better than they did against the Buccaneers, especially on defense, where they allowed Tom Brady to throw for 345 yards and four touchdowns. The Vikings will also need to get more production from their running game, which was held to 76 yards on 21 carries.
Vikings Have a Tough Stretch of Games After Week 2
Even if the Vikings manage to pull off an upset against the Eagles, they will still have a lot of work to do to reach .500 by Halloween. The Vikings have a tough stretch of games after Week 2, facing some of the best teams in the league. Here is their schedule from Week 3 to Week 8:
- Week 3: vs. Los Angeles Chargers
- Week 4: at Carolina Panthers
- Week 5: vs. Kansas City Chiefs
- Week 6: at Chicago Bears
- Week 7: vs. San Francisco 49ers (Monday Night Football)
- Week 8: at Green Bay Packers
The Chargers are one of the most explosive offenses in the league, led by quarterback Justin Herbert and wide receiver Keenan Allen. The Panthers are a surprise team this year, with quarterback Sam Darnold playing well and running back Christian McCaffrey healthy and dominant. The Chiefs are the defending champions and have the best player in the league in quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Bears are always a tough opponent for the Vikings, especially at Soldier Field, where the Vikings have lost six of their last seven games. The 49ers are a balanced and physical team that can run the ball and play defense. The Packers are the Vikings’ biggest rivals and have quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has tormented the Vikings throughout his career.
The Vikings will need to find at least four wins in these six games, which is easier said than done. The Vikings will need to play with more consistency and urgency, and avoid costly mistakes and injuries. The Vikings will also need their star players to step up and lead the way, such as quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook, wide receiver Justin Jefferson, defensive end Danielle Hunter, and safety Harrison Smith.
Vikings Have a More Favorable Schedule After Halloween
If the Vikings can survive their tough stretch of games and reach .500 by Halloween, they will have a more favorable schedule after that. The Vikings will face some weaker teams in November and December, which could help them improve their record and playoff chances. Here is their schedule from Week 9 to Week 18:
- Week 9: at Atlanta Falcons
- Week 10: vs. New Orleans Saints
- Week 11: at Denver Broncos (Sunday Night Football)
- Week 12: vs. Chicago Bears (Monday Night Football)
- Week 13: BYE
- Week 14: at Las Vegas Raiders
- Week 15: at Cincinnati Bengals
- Week 16: vs. Detroit Lions
- Week 17: vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday Night Football)
- Week 18: at Detroit Lions
The Falcons are a rebuilding team that has struggled on defense and traded away star wide receiver Julio Jones. The Saints are a different team without quarterback Drew Brees, who retired after last season. The Broncos have a solid defense but an uncertain quarterback situation with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock. The Raiders are an inconsistent team that can score points but also give up a lot of points. The Bengals are an improving team with quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, but they still have a lot of holes on their roster. The Lions are one of the worst teams in the league, with a new coach in Dan Campbell and a new quarterback in Jared Goff.
The Vikings should be able to win most of these games, if not all of them, and put themselves in a good position to make the playoffs. The Vikings will also have a bye week in Week 13, which could help them rest and recover for the final stretch of the season. The Vikings will also have two crucial games against the Packers, one at home and one on the road, which could decide the fate of the NFC North division.
The Vikings have a lot of work to do to save their season, but they still have a chance to turn things around. The Vikings need to be at least 4-4 by Halloween, or they risk falling out of the playoff race. The Vikings have a tough schedule ahead of them, but they also have some winnable games after that. The Vikings will need to play with more passion and determination, and hope that their star players can lead them to victory.