We’ve reached the time of year for record predictions.
Never mind that drafts, trades and injuries will continue to radically reshape teams before the first week of September. The schedule is out, the players have reported back to their facilities; the 2019 pre-pre-preseason is underway, and it’s time to prognosticate.
So let’s go game-by-game and make a case for the Minnesota Vikings’ chances against each opponent — good and bad.
Week 1, vs Atlanta
The Case For a Win: Mike Zimmer is 4-1 in openers as Vikings coach and 3-0 against the Falcons. In those games Xavier Rhodes has had great success shutting down Julio Jones. And to top it off, the Vikings will have the energy of a home crowd backing them up in the season-opener.
The Case For a Loss: Atlanta might be underrated. They made the Super Bowl two seasons ago but were devastated by injuries in 2018. They’ll be healthier. Matt Ryan is a high-level quarterback that won’t be intimidated in a tough environment. And with the exception of last season, the Falcons have been fast starters under Dan Quinn, beginning 5-0, 4-1 and 3-0 in the previous three seasons with him at the helm.
Week 2, @ Green Bay
The Case For a Win: For a second straight year the Vikings avoid the Frozen Tundra and the cold weather where Aaron Rodgers seems to thrive and Kirk Cousins seems to struggle. They were two missed field goals away from winning in overtime a year ago. Green Bay may still be gelling with new coach Matt LaFleur calling the shots.
The Case For a Loss: Aaron Rodgers isn’t one week removed from a serious knee injury as he was a year ago when the teams met. LaFleur’s new offense won’t be easily scoutable just a week into the season, and Green Bay will have its own home-opening energy.
Week 3, vs Oakland
The Case For a Win: Despite making some big splashes in free agency, the Raiders are still very much rebuilding under Jon Gruden. This will be Oakland’s first road test of the season and first time ever playing in U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Case For a Loss: The Raiders acquired Antonio Brown in the offseason, who can be a game-changing presence offensively. The Vikings also slipped up in Week 3 last season in a game where they were heavily favored, getting embarrassed by the Buffalo Bills 27-6 at home.
Week 4, @ Chicago
The Case For a Win: The Bears have a short week after playing on the road on Monday Night Football the week before. It’s unlikely they’ll have the same type of momentum as 2018 when they hosted the Vikings at Soldier Field. Mitch Trubisky, though solid last year, has yet to establish himself as reliable year-in and year-out.
The Case For a Loss: Soldier Field is routinely a brutal place for the Vikings to play. Their only two wins there in the past 11 years were accomplished by division-title-winning teams by a mere field goal. Khalil Mack remains a tough matchup for Minnesota’s offensive line, as currently constructed.
Week 5, @ New York Giants
The Case For a Win: The Vikings may have the inside track on understanding what head coach Pat Shurmur is trying to do offensively. Their defense has usually feasted on Eli Manning’s lack of mobility, and he no longer has Odell Beckham Jr. as a weapon.
The Case For a Loss: Inversely, Shurmur may have a good grasp of how the Vikings will attack them on defense. The Vikings have never encountered Saquon Barkley before, who will test their linebackers.
Week 6, vs Philadelphia
The Case For a Win: After two games away from home, the Vikings will likely have a charged-up atmosphere against their most hated non-division rival. There is less certainty about Carson Wentz being a top-10 quarterback in the league than there was two years ago. And the Vikings proved they can beat Philadelphia with their win at Lincoln Financial Field a season ago.
The Case For a Loss: Likely healthier, Wentz could be back to his old form. Philadelphia’s defensive line remains one of the league’s strongest after signing Malik Jackson. Oh, and maybe Andrew Sendejo shares all of Minnesota’s secrets with his new teammates.
Week 7, @ Detroit
The Case For a Win: The Vikings have won their last two at Ford Field and three out of four, and they’ve routinely made Matthew Stafford’s life miserable.
The Case For a Loss: The Lions were splashy in free agency, signing Trey Flowers and Justin Coleman defensively along with Jesse James and Danny Amendola offensively. Head coach Matt Patricia’s principles could take hold more strongly in Year 2.
Week 8, vs Washington (TNF)
The Case For a Win: The Vikings (finally) get a Thursday night home game, giving them a preparation advantage. In his first revenge game against his former team, Kirk Cousins may play exceptionally well. And coming off a losing season, the Redskins lost much more than they gained in free agency.
The Case For a Loss: The revenge may go the other way as Case Keenum and Adrian Peterson could be in the lineup for Washington. Keenum returns to the building where he went 7-1 as a quarterback for the Vikings.
Week 9, @ Kansas City
The Case For a Win: Maybe Patrick Mahomes has a sophomore slump? Also, with Kareem Hunt gone and Tyreek Hill facing legal trouble, the Chiefs may be without two of the valuable pieces that made their offense so explosive a season ago.
The Case For a Loss: Going to Arrowhead is difficult for any team. This kicks off a stretch of road games against 2018 playoff teams, all of which will be tough to win.
Week 10, @ Dallas
The Case For a Win: The Cowboys have a short week after playing on Monday Night Football. Mike Zimmer will get to coach against Dallas, his longtime home, for the first time as a head coach after missing the 2016 meeting due to eye surgery, which could create some inspiration.
The Case For a Loss: Dallas was great at home last year and got a great bounce-back season from Dak Prescott. Beating playoff teams on the road? Generally hard.
Week 11, vs Denver
The Case For a Win: The Broncos aren’t expected to be great, and veteran Joe Flacco could have a rookie QB breathing down his neck if Denver is falling out of the playoff picture. Flacco is the type of passer the Vikings usually pester with pressure, which sets up favorably.
The Case For a Loss: The Vikings have the latest bye week in team history coming after this game. Injuries may be piling up, and the players could be looking ahead to their week off following a grueling 11-game stretch. Trap game?
Week 12, BYE
Week 13, @ Seattle (MNF)
The Case For a Win: The Vikings should be well-rested and well-prepared with a Monday night game coming after a bye week, giving them 15 days between contests.
The Case For a Loss: Cousins looked dreadful in Seattle last year in the game that cost OC John DeFilippo his job. The Seahawks are nearly impossible to beat in their building, and the Vikings have never defeated Russell Wilson.
Week 14, vs Detroit
The Case For a Win: With the final quarter of the season arriving, the Lions may be on the fringe or out of the playoff race if Patricia’s second year goes like his first. A perfect chance to kick an opponent while they’re down.
The Case For a Loss: Detroit has been plucky at U.S. Bank Stadium with two wins in its three years of existence.
Week 15, @ Los Angeles Chargers (SNF)
The Case For a Win: Hey, it’s not like the Chargers have a major home field advantage in their soccer stadium. The Vikings also dominated Philip Rivers in their 2015 meeting, for what it’s worth.
The Case For a Loss: Going West twice in three weeks isn’t easy. The Chargers may be jockeying for AFC playoff seeding and have a lot for which to play.
Week 16, vs Green Bay (MNF)
The Case For a Win: Everything could be on the line for both teams with the division race in its penultimate week. The Vikings have always found a way to rise to the occasion against the Packers at their new stadium, going 3-0 against them since its opening.
The Case For a Loss: Rodgers is Rodgers. Anything can happen. And that Green Bay defense really beefed up in free agency.
Week 17, vs Chicago
The Case For a Win: The Vikings wouldn’t let a second straight Week 17 letdown against Chicago happen again, would they?
The Case For a Loss: Cousins is 0-2 in must-win Week 17 games in his career. If the Vikings are once-again in that position… beware.