We already knew the Vikings would have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL in 2018, and we now have the exact details of who, when and where:

Week 1: Sept. 9 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Week 2: Sept. 16 at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Week 3: Sept. 23 vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Week 4: Sept. 27 at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m. (FOX/NFLN)
Week 5: Oct. 7 at Philadelphia Eagles, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
Week 6: Oct. 14 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Week 7: Oct. 21 at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Week 8: Oct. 28 vs. New Orleans Saints, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Week 9: Nov. 4 vs. Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Week 10: Nov. 11 — BYE
Week 11: Nov. 18 at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. (NBC)
Week 12: Nov. 25 vs. Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Week 13: Dec. 2 at New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
Week 14: Dec. 10 at Seattle Seahawks (Mon), 8:15 P.M. (ESPN)
Week 15: Dec. 16 vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Week 16: Dec. 23 at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Week 17: Dec. 30 vs. Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Obviously, the game with the big red circle on the calendar is Philadelphia week five. Reports initially said the Vikings would get the defending Super Bowl champs to open the season on Thursday Night Football, but that proved to not be the case. While that may eliminate some of the national spotlight of the game, it certainly does nothing to extinguish the heat back home. With both sides sporting a different quarterback from their NFC Championship Game matchup, this is sure to be a focal point of the season for two of the league’s elites.

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Unfortunately for the Vikings, that game will come a mere seven days after battling another NFC top dog. The Rams were formidable a year ago, but this offseason they added three superstars to the defense and Brandin Cooks to the offense. Like the Vikings, Sean McVay and the Rams are clearly gunning for 2018 and week four provides an early season glance as to whether or not those moves will get them there.

The Vikings will have a target on their back come week eight. The Saints were one Minneapolis Miracle shy of the NFC Championship Game in January, and now they will return to the scene of the crime. This will be the second year in a row that the Vikings host the Saints. The two teams began their 2017 seasons at U.S. Bank Stadium on Monday Night Football.

The biggest overall takeaway from the Vikings schedule is that there are a lot of matchups with playoff hopefuls. Outside of the Jets and Dolphins, every team figures to be competitive, including two games each with Green Bay, Detroit and the improved Bears. Throw in a game in New England and one thing is very clear:

The Vikings are really going to have to earn their Super Bowl run this year. Fortunately, their roster and coaches are more than capable of making it happen.

–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Full Press Coverage NFC North. Like and

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