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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Five games that will shape the Vikings’ 2018 season

By Matthew Coller

The NFL released its entire schedule on Thursday night. Here are the five matchups that will determine whether they repeat last season’s 13-3 performance, slide back to a Wild Card playoff team or miss the postseason…

Week 2: at Packers

Assuming the Packers and Aaron Rodgers get on the same page, the future Hall of Fame quarterback will be back to form and looking for revenge. Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr knocked Rodgers with a collarbone injury in last year’s matchup at US Bank Stadium. The Packers crushed the Vikings the last time he faced them at Lambeau Field in Week 16 of the 2016 season. Mike Zimmer’s road defense, which struggled to pressure the QB last year, will get its first tough test against one of the best QBs in the NFL.

Week 4: at Rams

The Vikings and Rams will have to play on short notice. Following a Week 3 matchup with the Bills, Minnesota travels to the City of Angels looking to go 2-for-2 against Sean McVay. However, the Rams are expected to be one of the league’s best teams, especially after adding Marcus Peters, Aquib Talib and Ndamukong Suh to their defense. If Kirk Cousins can perform well against the Rams’ stacked D, he can beat anybody.

Week 5: at Eagles

With a little extra time to prepare, the Vikings will be ready for a rematch with the Super Bowl champions. Philadelphia dominated the Vikings in the NFC title game, making Week 5 a must-watch matchup. While fans might have been happy to open the season at home, Eagles QB Carson Wentz will have time to get back into form following his recovery from a knee injury that ended his 2017 season. This will be Zimmer’s best test. Will he get out-coached again by Doug Pederson? Will he be able to create pressure on Wentz? A win in Philly would make the Vikings a favorite in the NFC.

Week 8: vs. Saints

This game isn’t just about the Minneapolis Miracle. If the Vikings are in a race for playoff position, this matchup could play tiebreaker. New Orleans improved this offseason after building one of the best all-around teams last season. Now young players like Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore could take the next step. And, like Rodgers, you can bet Drew Brees will be gearing up to perform against the Vikings.

Week 16: at Lions

The Lions are one of the most difficult teams to predict. New head coach Matt Patricia should bring them more strength on defense. Considering Detroit ranked seventh in scoring in 2017, they may be an average defense away from being a legitimate contender for the NFC North. Vikings players will certainly be happy to have Thanksgiving off this year, but heading to Detroit with a division title or even a playoff spot on the line could make for a tough matchup… and great drama.

The post Five games that will shape the Vikings’ 2018 season appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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