The NFL seems to be punishing the Minnesota Vikings after they had a phenomenal road schedule last year. If you’re one of those people who like to deck out in purple and travel with the Vikings for a game or two, last year gave you plenty of great opportunities. Well, if you don’t care about the outcome of the games, that is.
Week 1 @ Cincinnati (27-24 OT loss)
We didn’t realize the Cincinnati Bengals were a Super Bowl team when the Vikings played them, but they probably didn’t either. It was still an opportunity to see Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase in action.
Week 2 @ Arizona (34-33 loss)
We expected a back-and-forth offensive battle. We also knew that the crowd would be half-purple, given how many Minnesota ex-pats live in the desert. What we didn’t expect was Greg Joseph to miss a 37-yard gimme. Then again, when has a kicker ever let the Vikings down?
Week 6 @ Carolina (34-28 OT win)
Week 9 @ Baltimore (34-31 OT loss)
Most teams that house the second-half kickoff to go up 24-10 win the game. The Vikings are the Vikings, though.
Week 10 @ Chargers (27-20 win)
Week 12 @ San Francisco (34-26 loss)
The score misrepresents how badly the San Francisco 49ers beat the Vikings in this game.
Week 13 @ Detroit (29-27 loss)
Most teams don’t play off-coverage in the end zone. The Vikings did, though.
Week 15 @ Chicago (17-9 win)
Week 17 @ Green Bay (37-10 loss)
As Mike Zimmer reminded everyone repeatedly last year, the Vikings lost a lot of close games, and many of them came on the road. They beat themselves in Cincy, and Joseph needs to hit the kick in Glendale. They should have closed in Baltimore. It looked like Minnesota had something going when they beat Herbert on the road and then Green Bay at home, but then they lost in Detroit.
Still, if you ponied up the money to travel to a Vikings game or two, you at least were rewarded in some capacity. The Arizona game was too early in the season, but Phoenix still has a lot more to offer than a lot of the places the Purple will be heading to this year. Charlotte in the fall? Two California trips in the winter? Pretty nice, IMO.
I know that plenty of you guys make the trip. I was fortunate enough to attend five away games: Cincinnati, Arizona, Baltimore, Chicago, and Green Bay. That meant seeing Burrow, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson live, even if the Chicago and Green Bay games were forgettable. And I probably missed the two best trips – LA and San Fran. Still, I saw purple everywhere I went, and it made a meaningful difference in the games, especially at Arizona.
Unfortunately, this year is going to be a letdown – unless you can get out to London.
Week 2 @ Philadelphia
A rematch of the 2018 NFC Championship game will be great television, assuming the Vikings don’t stop scoring after their first drive. However, Philadelphia’s “hospitality” is reason enough to watch this one from home.
Week 4 vs. New Orleans (in London)
It’s probably worth the money if you want to buy an international flight and a $600 ticket to the game, but not everyone can spare that. There’s worse things than waking up to football if you choose to watch this one at home.
Week 6 @ Miami
Great location; mediocre team. However, the Miami Dolphins game has the potential to be kind of like the Cincinnati game from last year. We all thought the Bengals were terrible, until we realized they weren’t. Still, it might be a stretch to believe that Tua Tagovailoa only needed weapons around him.
Week 9 @ Washington
A trip to the nation’s capital sounds great until you realize that the stadium is in Maryland and Dan Snyder makes professional athletes play on crabgrass.
Week 10 @ Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills game is almost the opposite of the Washington trip. The gameday experience is probably great – especially if you want to tailgate. Seeing the Vikings play Stefon Diggs will be fun, especially because Kevin O’Connell has embraced the forward pass. But what are you going to do in Buffalo? Take pictures in the Kodak museum with your cellphone?
Week 14 @ Detroit
I’m not going to overanalyze the NFC North because the Vikings play in Detroit, Green Bay, and Chicago every year. But the only reason to go to the Detroit Lions game is to see Dan Campbell pass out from drinking too much coffee.
Week 17 @ Green Bay
There are only two reasons to cross the border: Spotted Cow and illegal fireworks. Never go further east than Hudson.
Week 18 @ Chicago
The Chicago Bears game can only end poorly for Vikings fans. Either they watch a GM and quarterback they passed on beat them, or they view an eyesore win like last year.
Take the London trip out, and Minnesota’s road schedule is a tough follow-up to last year. People in Philly will dump beer on you. Miami is a fun city with a meh football team. And you’ve got to go deep into the DC suburbs to see Carson Wentz play football. Buffalo is probably the best trip, and Marshawn Lynch got very bored in Western New York.
Fans will ultimately just care about how many games the Vikings win on the road. Last year was disappointing because they lost in fun locations. Next year could be remembered fondly because they stole a few away from US Bank Stadium. But this year is a bit of a letdown for the die-hards who want to make a weekend (or two) out of seeing the Vikings on the road.