Minnesota Vikings Schedule 2014: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game
The first season under new head coach Mike Zimmer will see the Minnesota Vikings face just four playoff teams from 2013, including only one on the road.
The NFL officially released their 2014 schedule Wednesday, providing the path for Zimmer's debut season in Minnesota. The Vikings will play Green Bay twice, plus non-division games against Carolina, New Orleans and New England. But that's it in terms of playoff teams from last season.
Under Leslie Frazier in 2013, the Vikings stumbled out of the gates and finished with a 5-10-1 record—a disappointment that eventually led to Frazier's dismissal. It's on Zimmer to get Minnesota out of the NFC North basement, which might be difficult in his first season.
In the following slides, we'll provide way-too-early predictions for every game on the Vikings' 2014 schedule.
Week 1: At St. Louis Rams
The Rams have arguably the most disruptive front four in all of football, which will give any Vikings quarterback—whether it's Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder or a rookie—big troubles. And even more troublesome is the fact that St. Louis allowed just 3.7 yards per rush last season. The Vikings will need a polished effort on offense to beat the Rams on the road.
Prediction: Rams 27, Vikings 14 (0-1)
Week 2: Vs. New England Patriots
The "Any Given Sunday" mantra still applies in the NFL, but the Patriots are rarely bitten by upset, and the talent divide between New England and Minnesota remains large. The Vikings would need to control the clock on offense and find a way to keep consistent pressure on Tom Brady. It's not impossible, but also not likely.
Prediction: Patriots 28, Vikings 17 (0-2)
Week 3: At New Orleans Saints
The Vikings gave up 30 or more points eight times last season. While Mike Zimmer and some savvy moves in free agency have helped provide respectability to the Minnesota defense, this is still a unit that will have troubles stopping top quarterbacks like Drew Brees. On the fast track of the Superdome, Brees and the Saints could run wild.
Prediction: Saints 38, Vikings 17 (0-3)
Week 4: Vs. Atlanta Falcons
Two 2012 playoff teams that fell off the map last season meet in Minnesota. Neither club will get the benefits of playing under a dome, which might have favored the Falcons anyway. Atlanta has the quarterback, but Minnesota has the running back and pass rush. At home, that'll be enough for the Vikings.
Prediction: Vikings 21, Falcons 13 (1-3)
Week 5: At Green Bay Packers
The Vikings had a golden opportunity to steal a game from the Packers at Lambeau Field last season, but a second-half meltdown against Matt Flynn led to a dreaded tie. If Aaron Rodgers is healthy, the Packers become big favorites to grab a win. Over 12 games against Minnesota, Rodgers has 26 touchdowns against just four interceptions.
Prediction: Packers 31, Vikings 17 (1-4)
Week 6: Vs. Detroit Lions
The Vikings make a brutal five-game stretch count in Week 6, when the Lions come to TCF Bank Stadium and leave with an upset loss. Winning division games on the road can be tough, especially for a Lions team always due for a clunker. Minnesota will already be well tested.
Prediction: Vikings 24, Lions 21 (2-4)
Week 7: At Buffalo Bills
The Bills gave up 100 or more rushing yards in 11 of 16 games last season, including five of eight at home. Adrian Peterson and the Vikings' rushing offense will like those odds. Minnesota will also like the fact that Buffalo only went over 200 yards passing six times in 2013. It would appear the Vikings can attack Buffalo's biggest weakness, but the Bills can't do the same to Minnesota.
Prediction: Vikings 21, Bills 13 (3-4)
Week 8: At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Vikings know how hard it is to win games on the road. Minnesota finished last season without a victory away from the Metrodome (save for a win across the pond in London, which was technically a home game), with seven losses and a tie at Green Bay. The Bucs struggled for long stretches last season, but they did beat the three teams at home who finished 8-8 or worse.
Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Vikings 20 (3-5)
Week 9: Vs. Washington Redskins
The Vikings snapped a four-game losing streak at Washington's expense last season. Minnesota scored the game's final 20 points to stun the Redskins, who otherwise railroaded the Vikings defense for most of the contest. Mike Zimmer should help provide a better defensive game plan against Jay Gruden, a former coaching assistant alongside Zimmer in Cincinnati.
Prediction: Vikings 21, Redskins 17 (4-5)
Week 11: At Chicago Bears
The Vikings haven't won in Chicago since 2007, a stretch of six straight years. Maybe the arrival of Mike Zimmer will eventually break the streak, but it seems unlikely in his first season. The Vikings simply don't have the defensive pieces in place to compete with one of the NFL's highest-scoring offenses on the road.
Prediction: Bears 27, Vikings 17 (4-6)
Week 12: Vs. Green Bay Packers
The Vikings are just 3-3 against the Packers in Minnesota since 2008. An otherwise close game between the two last season turned into a blowout when Green Bay went on a 34-10 run. While Mike Zimmer has been very good against Aaron Rodgers (who has never beaten the former Bengals offensive coordinator), the Vikings are still undermanned on defense. It will take a pressure-packed performance for Minnesota to knock off Rodgers.
Prediction: Packers 30, Vikings 20 (4-7)
Week 13: Vs. Carolina Panthers
The Vikings were blasted by the Panthers last season, losing by 25 at home following the bye week. Carolina has lost some of its edge on offense, but the team's second-ranked scoring defense remains a big problem for Minnesota's offense. The Panthers allowed just 290 yards and forced two turnovers in last year's meeting.
Prediction: Panthers 27, Vikings 13 (4-8)
Week 14: Vs. New York Jets
The Jets have just five road wins over the last two seasons, including only two in 2013. And only three times last season did New York score more than 14 points away from home, which will bode well for Minnesota's defense. A team should be able to win at home when it holds the opposition to under two touchdowns.
Prediction: Vikings 23, Jets 13 (5-8)
Week 15: At Detroit Lions
The Lions have been terrible in December the last two seasons (0-8 combined), but winning in Detroit against a team in the hunt for the postseason won't be easy. The Vikings won't have much to play for at this point. Detroit won't let them play spoiler.
Prediction: Lions 31, Vikings 21 (5-9)
Week 16: At Miami Dolphins
Adrian Peterson has faced the AFC East only four times in his career, but he's made the most of the opportunities. Over four games, Peterson averaged 108 rushing yards and five yards per carry. His best effort came against the Dolphins, who he smoked for 145 yards and a score in their only meeting. Peterson will help power a Minnesota road win.
Prediction: Vikings 27, Dolphins 24 (6-9)
Week 17: Vs. Chicago Bears
A season finale matchup in the potentially frigid cold temperatures outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium makes this an interesting affair. The Bears will need a win, but nothing comes easy in the elements at an unfamiliar stadium. Chicago should still win, but this game could really go either way.
Prediction: Bears 27, Vikings 23 (6-10)