Primetime games at Chicago, Green Bay highlight Vikings' 2011 schedule
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Primetime showdowns at Chicago and Green Bay and a Christmas Eve game at Washington highlight the Minnesota Vikings' 2011 regular-season schedule, which the NFL released on Tuesday night.
The Vikings are scheduled to open at San Diego on Sept. 11 and close at home against the Bears on New Year's Day. Their two scheduled national TV games both are on the road, against the Bears on Oct. 16 and the Packers on "Monday Night Football" on Nov. 14 at Lambeau Field.
Eleven games are scheduled to start at noon, although a handful of those are subject to flexible scheduling. The Vikings' bye will be fall at the season's midpoint in Week 9, splitting their only two consecutive road games.
The schedule is contingent, of course, on the NFL lockout being resolved in time for games to be played. The league released its preseason schedule last week, and the Vikings also announced dates for those games on Tuesday as well: Saturday, Aug. 13 at Tennessee; Saturday, Aug. 20 at Seattle; Saturday, Aug. 27 against Dallas; and Thursday, Sept. 1 against Houston.
All regular-season matchups were set in January. The Vikings play six games against NFC North opponents, four games each against the NFC South and AFC West and the last-place finishers from the NFC West and NFC East, which ended up being Arizona and Washington, respectively.
The combined 2010 record of the Vikings' opponents is 132-124, ranking their strength of schedule 12th in the league.
The full schedule is below, with games eligible for flexible scheduling marked with an asterisk.
Sunday, Sept. 11: at San Diego, 3:15 p.m. (Fox)
The teams have met in San Diego only once in the past 30 years -- on Nov. 9, 2003, in a game the Chargers won 42-28. The Vikings won the only other matchup in the past decade 35-17 in 2007. It's the fourth consecutive road opener for the Vikings, who have opened against an AFC opponent only once since 1998.
Sunday, Sept. 18: vs. Tampa Bay, noon (Fox)
The Buccaneers have a four-game winning streak in the series, dating to a 41-14 blowout in Tampa Bay on Oct. 28, 2001 -- their last meeting with the Vikings in NFC Central Division play.
Sunday, Sept. 25: vs. Detroit, noon (Fox)
The Vikings have won 13 consecutive home games against the Lions since 14-13 loss late in the 1997 season. That includes a 24-10 victory in Week 3 last season at the Metrodome.
Sunday, Oct. 2: at Kansas City, noon (Fox)
The Vikings haven't faced the Chiefs since 2007, when they lost 13-10 at Arrowhead Stadium.
Sunday, Oct. 9: vs. Arizona, noon (Fox)
The highlight of the Vikings' disastrous 2010 season was a 27-24 comeback win over the Cardinals on Nov. 7 at the Metrodome.
Sunday, Oct. 16: at Chicago, 7:20 p.m. (NBC)
The Bears rolled 27-13 last Nov. 14 at Soldier Field, erasing whatever momentum the Vikings had from their win over Arizona and beginning the two-game losing streak that ended the Childress era.
Sunday, Oct. 23: vs. Green Bay, 3:15 p.m. (Fox)
The Packers rolled 31-3 at the Metrodome last Nov. 21, one day before the Vikings fired coach Brad Childress. The Vikings had won the previous two meetings at the Metrodome, with Green Bay taking four of five before that.
Sunday, Oct. 30: at Carolina, noon (Fox)
The Panthers won the last meeting 26-7 on Dec. 20, 2009 -- a game in which then Childress benched left tackle Bryant McKinnie and attempted to bench Favre, who refused to leave the game.
Monday, Nov. 14: at Green Bay, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The Packers got their first taste of revenge against Brett Favre last Oct. 24, beating the Vikings 28-24 at Lambeau Field. Green Bay has won four of the past five meetings there, with the only exception a Favre-led 38-26 decision on Nov. 1, 2009.
Sunday, Nov. 20: vs. Oakland, noon (CBS)*
This will be the teams' first meeting since a 29-22 Vikings win on Nov. 18, 2007, at the Metrodome. The Raiders are 9-4 in the all-time series.
Sunday, Nov. 27: at Atlanta, noon (Fox)*
The Vikings last visited Atlanta in 2005, when they lost 30-10 at the Georgia Dome. The teams have split two games since at the Metrodome.
Sunday, Dec. 4: vs. Denver, 3:05 p.m. (CBS)*
The teams last met on Dec. 30, 2007, when the Broncos survived a Tarvaris Jackson-led comeback and won 22-19 in overtime at Invesco Field. The Vikings had won the two previous meetings in 1999 and 2003.
Sunday, Dec. 11: at Detroit, noon (Fox)*
The Vikings played at Ford Field twice last season and lost both times -- 21-3 in a relocated "home" game against the New York Giants on Dec. 13 and 20-13 on Jan. 2 against the Lions. The latter sealed a last-place finish in the NFC North for the Vikings, who had won seven of their previous eight road games at Detroit.
Sunday, Dec. 18: vs. New Orleans, noon (Fox)*
The Saints won both meetings in 2010 at the Superdome -- 31-28 in January's NFC championship game and 14-9 in September's season-opening rematch. The Vikings had taken the previous four and eight of nine.
Saturday, Dec. 24: at Washington, noon (Fox)*
In Leslie Frazier's first game as interim coach, the Vikings beat the Redskins 17-13 at FedEx Field, their second consecutive road win in the series.
Sunday, Jan. 1: vs. Chicago, noon (Fox)*
The Bears rolled 40-14 last Dec. 20 at TCF Bank Stadium in the second of two relocated "home" games for the Vikings following the Metrodome roof collapse. The Vikings have won the last three matchups at the Metrodome and seven of eight since 2002. The teams last met on New Year's Day in the final game of the 2005 season, when the Vikings gave Mike Tice a 34-10 victory in his final game as coach.