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    Breaking down the Vikings schedule, game by game

    The Vikings’ 2023 schedule, released in its entirety Thursday night, features nine road games, six of last year’s playoff teams, early reunions against Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks, only one outdoor game after Thanksgiving and a December bye week.

    Here’s a game-by-game look:

    Week 1: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Noon, Sept. 10 (Ch. 4)

    The season starts with the Tom Brady-less Buccaneers. Life after Brady looks like quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask for Tampa Bay, which is Mayfield’s fourth NFL team for the former 2018 first overall selection. New offensive coordinator Dave Canales — the former Seahawks quarterbacks coach — will call the shots to receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Two former Gophers players, Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and tight end Ko Kieft, return to Minnesota.

    Week 2: at Philadelphia Eagles

    7:15 p.m., Sept. 14 (Amazon Prime)

    The Vikings return to Lincoln Financial Field for the fifth time in the past eight seasons. This trip will open the Eagles’ home schedule on a short week on Thursday Night Football. Philadelphia lost a few contributors — guard Isaac Seumalo, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and running back Miles Sanders — to free agency. But the Eagles re-signed cornerback James Bradberry, drafted first-round defensive tackle Jalen Carter (Georgia) and extended dynamic quarterback Jalen Hurts on a five-year deal worth up to $255 million.

    Week 3: vs. Los Angeles Chargers

    Noon, Sept. 24 (Ch. 9)

    Quarterback Justin Herbert has a new play-caller — ex-Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore — and a new target in first-round receiver Quentin Johnston. The Chargers hope Moore can scheme up a way to avoid blowing another 27-point lead like last season’s AFC wild-card playoff loss to Jacksonville. Former Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks returns to Minnesota, where he started for eight seasons before he was released in March.

    Week 4: at Carolina Panthers

    Noon, Oct. 1 (Ch. 9)

    New Panthers coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown — Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell’s former coworker with the Rams — are the new brain trust for rookie quarterback Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall draft pick out of Alabama. The Vikings also will see receiver Adam Thielen, who signed a two-year deal with Carolina after being released in March.

    Week 5: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

    3:25 p.m., Oct. 8 (Ch. 4)

    The reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs come to town with new pieces around MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City replaced both starting tackles in free agency with ex-Jaguars tackle Jawaan Taylor and ex-Buccaneers tackle Donovan Smith. Last year’s top receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, also left in free agency. But tight end Travis Kelce remains the top target. He’ll again lead a group of Chiefs targets including Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore and second-round receiver Rashee Rice.

    Week 6: at Chicago Bears

    Noon, Oct. 15 (Ch. 9)

    General Manager Ryan Poles’ renovation took major steps this offseason. The Bears traded the No. 1 overall draft choice to Carolina for a package including receiver D.J. Moore. Poles traded back again before taking first-round offensive tackle Darnell Wright, a road grader for elusive quarterback Justin Fields. Chicago fortified 2022’s last-placed scoring defense with millions guaranteed for free-agent linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards.

    Week 7: vs. San Francisco 49ers

    7:15 p.m., Oct. 23 (ESPN)

    The first of two Monday Night Football games comes against last year’s NFC runner-up 49ers. Who will be San Francisco’s quarterback? Jimmy Garoppolo signed with the Raiders, leaving 2021 top pick and Marshall, Minn., native Trey Lance and veteran addition Sam Darnold as the two healthy arms competing for the job. Brock Purdy, the 2022 seventh-round pick who won seven consecutive games before getting knocked out of the NFC Championship Game, has the upper hand on the starting job. But March elbow surgery may keep him out of at least training camp.

    Week 8: at Green Bay Packers

    Noon, Oct. 29 (Ch. 9)

    For the first time since the 1991 season — over 30 years ago — the Vikings won’t have to face a Packers quarterback named Rodgers or Favre this season. Like Favre, Rodgers was traded to the Jets. Now Jordan Love, the 2020 first-round pick, takes over a Packers offense recently fortified with back-to-back second-round receivers in Christian Watson and Jayden Reed — this year’s choice from Michigan State.

    Week 9: at Atlanta Falcons

    Noon, Nov. 5 (Ch. 9)

    The rebuilt Falcons have some offensive firepower. Atlanta has spent three consecutive top-10 draft picks on skill talent in tight end Kyle Pitts, receiver Drake London and new running back Bijan Robinson, the Texas phenom taken eighth overall last month. Can 2022 third-round quarterback Desmond Ridder guide this high-octane attack? Former Vikings passer Taylor Heinicke is projected as Ridder’s backup.

    Week 10: vs. New Orleans Saints

    Noon, Nov. 12 (Ch. 9)

    Carr, the ex-Raiders quarterback, now leads the Saints with at least four new defensive starters. The Saints let go three key D-linemen — edge Marcus Davenport (who signed with the Vikings) and tackles David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle — while adding ex-Chiefs defensive tackle Khalen Saunders, ex-Jets edge Nathan Shepard and first-round defensive tackle Bryan Bresee (Clemson). Running back Alvin Kamara’s availability is unclear after he pleaded not guilty in March to assault charges stemming from a 2022 incident.

    Week 11: at Denver Broncos

    7:20 p.m., Nov. 19 (Ch. 11)

    The first Sunday Night Football matchup is a reunion in Denver with Broncos General Manager George Paton, the former longtime Vikings assistant executive. Paton opened the wallet of the Broncos’ new ownership to get more out of his investment in quarterback Russell Wilson. Denver guaranteed a combined $62 million at signing for two blockers: Mike McGlinchey, the ex-49ers tackle, and Ben Powers, the ex-Ravens guard, while reportedly paying Wilson more than $17 million annually.

    Week 12: vs. Chicago Bears

    7:15 p.m., Nov. 27 (ESPN)

    The Bears come to town for the Vikings’ second Monday Night Football game at U.S. Bank Stadium this season. Fields enters his third NFL season with a suddenly strong receiving corps — Moore, Chase Claypool and Darnell Mooney — and legs that ran for 1,143 rushing yards last season, trailing only Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s 2019 single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback.

    Week 13: BYE

    Week 14: at Las Vegas Raiders

    3:05 p.m., Dec. 10 (Ch. 9)

    Coach Josh McDaniels swapped quarterbacks, reuniting with ex-Patriots draft pick Jimmy Garoppolo. He replaces quarterback Derek Carr, who was cut only 10 months after signing a three-year extension. The Raiders’ Patriots West grew further by adding former New England receiver Jakobi Meyers and backup quarterback Brian Hoyer. Las Vegas used the franchise tag on running back Josh Jacobs following a career-high 2,053 yards from scrimmage.

    Week 15: at Cincinnati Bengals


    Quarterback Joe Burrow has a new protector in ex-Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., and a new target in former Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. Cincinnati’s sixth-ranked scoring defense has more holes to fill. The Bengals’ top three defensive backs by playing time last year did not return: safeties Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell and cornerback Eli Apple. Rookie defensive backs D.J. Turner (Michigan) and Jordan Battle (Alabama) might play big roles.

    Week 16: vs. Detroit Lions

    Noon, Dec. 24 (Ch. 9)

    The Vikings’ season ends with two Lions games in three weeks. The NFL is leaning into the story line that Detroit will keep ascending after going 8-2 to end last season. The Lions prioritized the secondary this offseason, signing free agent cornerbacks Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Detroit also added first-round running back Jahmyr Gibbs (Alabama) and signed ex-Bears runner David Montgomery after letting go Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift.

    Week 17: vs. Green Bay Packers

    7:20 p.m., Dec. 31 (Ch. 11)

    The NFL not only positioned the Vikings-Packers rematch in a high-stakes spot, the league and its television partners are betting on their playoff chances with a prime-time broadcast. A December home game against the Packers is rare; the past three were all clinching scenarios: two NFC North titles (2004, 2019) for Green Bay and one NFC wild-card playoff spot (2012) for Minnesota.

    Week 18: at Detroit Lions


    A trip to Ford Field with possible playoff/division implications concludes the 2023 regular season. Quarterback Jared Goff has proven to be a competent conductor for a very talented offense, which now includes second-round tight end Sam LaPorta out of Iowa. Receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has at least six catches in each of his four games against the Vikings.

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