2021 Team Analysis and Schedule
The Minnesota Vikings underwhelmed in 2020, missing the playoffs for the third time in the past six seasons. A team that has struggled with consistency in recent years, the Vikings have alternated seasons in and out of the playoffs over that six-year span.
After a 7-9 finish in 2020, the Vikings set out to address their two biggest needs in the offseason: the offensive line and the defense, particularly the secondary.
Minnesota’s defensive changes make the unit look noticeably different, although some of the changes involved bringing in former players who experienced success with the Vikings in the past.
The Vikings should be a playoff team in 2021.
Minnesota Vikings 2021 Schedule
The Vikings have one of the tougher schedules in the league this season based on their 2020 record. However, it’s the third-toughest in the division. The Chicago Bears have the third-toughest overall, with the Green Bay Packers fourth, Minnesota fifth, and the Detroit Lions sixth.
|Week 1||Sept. 12||at Cincinnati Bengals|
|Week 2||Sept. 19||at Arizona Cardinals|
|Week 3||Sept. 26||at Seattle Seahawks|
|Week 4||Oct. 3||at Cleveland Browns|
|Week 5||Oct. 10||at Detroit Lions|
|Week 6||Oct. 17||at Carolina Panthers|
|Week 7||Oct. 24||Bye week|
|Week 8||Oct. 31||at Dallas Cowboys|
|Week 9||Nov. 7||at Baltimore Ravens|
|Week 10||Nov. 14||at Los Angeles Chargers|
|Week 11||Nov. 21||at Green Bay Packers|
|Week 12||Nov. 28||at San Francisco 49ers|
|Week 13||Dec. 5||at Detroit Lions|
|Week 14||Dec. 9||at Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Week 15||Dec. 20||at Chicago Bears|
|Week 16||Dec. 26||at Los Angeles Rams|
|Week 17||Jan. 2||at Green Bay Packers|
|Week 18||Jan. 9||at Chicago Bears|
Minnesota Vikings News & Picks
Minnesota Vikings 2020 Summary
The Vikings’ 2020 season was a roller coaster and the team seemed unable to put together a complete game during the first half. During a 1-5 start to the season, the offense was all over the place, scoring 34 points in the season opener against Green Bay and struggling to get 11 points on the board the following week against the Indianapolis Colts.
The defense didn’t have things any easier. After an offseason of salary-cap gymnastics, cuts, and free-agent departures, Minnesota only returned four of 11 defensive starters from 2019. Most devastating was a mysterious neck injury to defensive end Danielle Hunter, the Vikings’ best edge rusher. As the season went on, the Vikings finished in the middle of the pack in turnovers but finished in the bottom-five in sacks for the first time under head coach Mike Zimmer.
Minnesota rallied in the second half of the season thanks to running back Dalvin Cook and rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Jefferson’s touchdown dance, “The Griddy,” became a league-wide sensation and he went on to set the record for most receiving yards for a rookie in the Super Bowl era.
However, Minnesota sputtered down the stretch, losing three of their last four games to finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings Key Players
Arguably, no Vikings player will be under more scrutiny this season than rookie offensive lineman Christian Darrisaw. The first-round draft pick from Virginia Tech fills a major need, as the Vikings had statistically the worst offensive line in the league in 2020. If he can perform even at a league average level, he will be a significant upgrade.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins is constantly under the microscope, given his perceived inability to win big games. For every positive Cousins stat (example: since 2018, Cousins ranks fifth in red zone touchdown passes with 61 against just one interception), there’s a negative stat that leaves Vikings fans scratching their heads (such as finishing the 2020 season with the second-most turnovers of any quarterback (13 interceptions, nine fumbles). Cousins, who has six consecutive seasons of nine or more fumbles, is one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in the league.
Healthy after recovering from his neck injury and with a contract dispute resolved, Hunter needs to be a major defensive factor for the Vikings. In 2019, Hunter became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 50 career sacks. After pushing to become one of the highest-paid defensive linemen in the league, expectations are high for Hunter.
Minnesota Vikings New Additions
- Mackensie Alexander, CB (returning to Minnesota after one season with Cincinnati)
- Bashaud Breeland, CB
- Mason Cole, IOL
- Christian Darrisaw, OT (drafted in first round)
- Kellen Mond, QB (drafted in third round)
- Patrick Peterson, CB
- Sheldon Richardson, DT (returning to Minnesota after two seasons with Cleveland)
- Stephen Weatherly, DT (returning to Minnesota after one season with Carolina)
- Xavier Woods, FS
Minnesota Vikings Key Subtractions
- Dan Bailey, K
- Anthony Harris, FS (signed with Philadelphia Eagles)
- Mike Hughes, CB (signed with Kansas City Chiefs)
- Ifeadi Odenigbo, DL (signed with New York Giants)
- Riley Reiff, OT (signed with Cincinnati Bengals)
- Kyle Rudolph, TE (signed with New York Giants)
- Shamar Stephen (signed with Denver Broncos)
- Eric Wilson, LB (signed with Philadelphia Eagles)
The Vikings are projected to finish second in the NFC North and have the second-best odds to win the division. As of publication, the Green Bay Packers are division favorites at -175. Minnesota is +250, the Chicago Bears are +425 and the Detroit Lions are +2200.
Minnesota Vikings Offense
The Vikings run a relatively balanced attack between the running and passing games. Dalvin Cook is one of the NFL’s top running backs, and when he’s on his game, it opens up the field for wide receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson.
Tight end Irv Smith Jr is set to take over the starting job in his third pro season. While the Vikings don’t have a ton of receiving options behind Thielen and Jefferson, Smith should be a reliable option over the middle of the field.
The offensive line must be better this season, though they will likely go through some growing pains. Rookie Christian Darrisaw should step into the left tackle role and another rookie, guard Wyatt Davis from Ohio State, will be key to the blocking schemes of the interior o-line.
Minnesota Vikings Defense
Several familiar faces returned to the Vikings this offseason after spending a season elsewhere, including defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson and Stephen Weatherly and cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Another defensive tackle, Michael Pierce, should be back on the field after a COVID-19 related opt-out of the 2020-21 season. With a healthy Danielle Hunter, the Vikings’ D-line should get plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, both of whom have been Pro Bowlers and All-Pros in the past, will once again patrol all areas of the field as will All-Pro safety Harrison Smith. The Vikings also acquired cornerback Patrick Peterson from the Arizona Cardinals, another perennial Pro Bowler, to help shut down opponents’ passing games.
With their adjustments, the Vikings defense should be a much-improved unit.
Minnesota Vikings FAQs
What does “Skol” mean?
“Skol” is a modern translation of the Scandinavian word “Skål,” used to mean “Cheers!” It’s used as a war chant for the Vikings at home games just before kickoff. It’s frequently used as “Skol Vikings.”
What is the Minneapolis Miracle?
One of the most memorable plays in Vikings history, the “Minneapolis Miracle” refers to Stefon Diggs’ game-winning touchdown catch as time expired to beat the New Orleans Saints in the 2018 NFC Divisional Round.
With no timeouts remaining and trailing by one, the Vikings needed a big play, something the team isn’t exactly known for, to avoid another soul-crushing defeat that has become synonymous with Minnesota playoff performances. From their own 39-yard-line, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum stepped up in the pocket and threw up a prayer to Diggs along the right sideline. Saints safety Marcus Williams attempted to make a play on the ball, but his misread after the catch let Diggs stay in-bounds and get behind the defense to score.
It is one of the most memorable plays in Vikings history.
Have the Vikings ever won a Super Bowl?
The Vikings have not won a Super Bowl. They are tied with the Buffalo Bills for the worst win/loss record in Super Bowls (0-4) and last played in a Super Bowl in 1977.
What division are the Minnesota Vikings in?