Ranking 2024 Vikings’ Opponents in Terms of Difficulty

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the 2024 schedule for the Minnesota Vikings has been released. This means we are one step closer to kicking off another season of Viking football.

However, the Vikings’ schedule is not the most favorable in 2024. Per Sharp Football Analysis, the Vikings have the fifth-toughest schedule in the league. Only the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, and Pittsburgh Steelers have a tougher schedule in 2024 per the Vegas preseason win totals.

The new-look Vikings will have their hands full. Games against the San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, and New York Jets stand out as tough matchups, and the team will also have to compete with an improving NFC North.

Today, let’s take a look at each of the Vikings’ opponents in 2024 and rank them from easiest to toughest. (14 is easiest, 1 is toughest).

14. Arizona Cardinals

Vikings' Opponents
Dec 17, 2023; Glendale, Ariz, United States; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) warms up before playing against the San Francisco 49ers at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-Arizona Republic

The Arizona Cardinals won just four games in 2023. The team struggled on both sides of the ball and had one of the worst rosters in the league last season. However, head coach Jonathan Gannon should help the team improve in his second season and the Cardinals added some talented rookies.

Marvin Harrison Jr., Zay Jones, and Chris Moore were added to the receiver room. James Conner is a solid veteran back. Young tight ends Trey McBride and Tip Reiman are an intriguing duo. However, there’s nothing about this roster that should scare the Vikings. The Cardinals don’t have the defensive front that can penetrate the Vikings’ elite line and the team could struggle to pass against an improving Vikings’ secondary.

Overall, this is the easiest game on the schedule. The Cardinals are projected to win just 6.5 games this season, and the Vikings have a more talented roster.

13. Tennessee Titans

Aug 12, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) calls signals against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans are a team in flux. After winning just six games in 2023, the team fired head coach Mike Vrabel. Now, the team has rookie HC Brian Callahan at the helm and a roster that still has a ton of holes.

Like the Cardinals, the Titans are projected to win 6.5 games in 2024. The Titans’ defense should be improved with the additions of L’Jarius Sneed and Chidobe Awuzie to the secondary and T’Vondre Sweat and Sebastian Joseph-Day to the defensive line. However, there are major question marks elsewhere on the roster and we still don’t know if Will Levis is capable as a starter.

The Titans do not need to be overlooked by the Vikings. However, the Vikings have more talent overall and should have a decent amount of fans in attendance in Nashville.

12. New York Giants

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Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) runs off the field after winning a wild card game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The New York Giants are an interesting team. The team won just six games in 2023 and has a questionable quarterback situation. However, some intriguing players like rookie Malik Nabers and edge rusher Brian Burns were added.

If Nabers is as good as advertised, he could be a problem. However, it’s hard to trust Daniel Jones throwing him the ball and the Vikings’ secondary is solid. Whether the Vikings’ QB is Sam Darnold or J.J. McCarthy, the team should be able to pass on this Giants’ defense. The Giants have a group of young, unproven players in the secondary that Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison should be able to exploit.

Like the above teams, the Giants are predicted to win 6.5 games. Playing in New York to open the season is not ideal, but the Vikings should have enough to get a win.

11. Atlanta Falcons

MLB: Texas Rangers at Atlanta Braves
Apr 21, 2024; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins throws out the first pitch prior to the game between the Atlanta Braves against the Texas Rangers at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This is a game that will be circled on the calendars of every Viking and Falcon fan. This will be the return of Kirk Cousins to the Twin Cities, and there’s bound to be drama.

On paper, the Vikings have a better roster than the Falcons. However, you can never count out Captain Kirk. Cousins will likely want to prove something when he returns to Minnesota, and the Vikings should be prepared to get his best. However, Kevin O’Connell knows Cousins as well as anyone and should have his team ready to go.

The Falcons won seven games last season and are projected to win 9.5 games this season. However, the Vikings will be motivated to win this one, and with a schedule as tough as Minnesota’s, someone has to be this low.

10. Seattle Seahawks

Jan 8, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) embraces wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) following a touchdown pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks are this high due to the tough environment at Lumen Field. Even when the Seahawks struggle, their home games have an electric atmosphere that is imposing to any team.

The Seahawks still have Geno Smith at QB and a nice trio of receivers. Kenneth Walker III is an exciting RB and the defense is no joke. Current projections have the team winning 7.5 games, a downgrade after winning nine in 2023.

The key to winning this game for the Vikings will be to make Geno Smith make mistakes and win the time of possession battle. If the Vikings can force a turnover or two and effectively run the ball, this should be a win. Again, this could easily be a loss, but roster-wise, these teams match up well.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars

Nov 19, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) hands off to running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) against the Tennessee Titans in the fourth quarter at EverBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars missed the playoffs in 2023 after winning nine games. The team is projected to win 8.5 games in 2024, meaning Vegas sees them as a fringe playoff team.

The Vikings should not be scared of the Jaguars. The team added Gabe Davis, Ronald Darby, and Darnell Savage this offseason, none of which move the needle. Arik Armstead is a legit player on the defensive interior, but the Vikings’ offensive line should be able to handle the task. Additionally, Jacksonville isn’t the toughest place to play and it’s likely the SKOL faithful will show up in droves.

To win this matchup, the Vikings have to get to Trevor Lawrence. This seems like another game that could be a huge one for Jefferson and Addison as well.

8. Chicago Bears

Nov 11, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) walks off the field after a game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

This will be another game that Vikings fans are eagerly awaiting. Do the Chicago Bears have their franchise QB? The Vikings play their division rival in Week 12 and Week 15. The Week 15 matchup is a home game on Monday Night Football.

Brian Flores is not the defensive coordinator a rookie QB would want to go up against. Flores will undoubtedly dial up pressure against Williams, and this will be the key to winning these games. The Bears won seven games last season and are projected to win 8.5 this year.

The Vikings and Bears split the series last year, but with the NFC North being tougher this year, the Vikings may need to win both.

7. Indianapolis Colts

Dec 4, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs the ball in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts are almost an unknown. Young QB Anthony Richardson played in just four games during his rookie campaign due to injury. However, the dynamic passer showed flashes in that short window and will be a force to be reckoned with in 2024.

The Colts boast a strong defense that features DeForest Buckner, Kwity Paye, and rookie Laiatu Latu. The offense has one of the game’s best running backs in Jonathan Taylor and an elite receiver in Michael Pittman.

To win this game, the Vikings will need to contain Richardson and Taylor. Keeping the QB upright will also be a necessity in this game. The Colts’ win total is currently sitting at 8.5 games.

6. Los Angeles Rams

Feb 16, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford during the Super Bowl LVI championship rally at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams are still led by veteran QB Matthew Stafford, a player the Vikings know well. The team won 10 games in 2023 and have a win total of 8.5 in 2024.

The Rams boast arguably the best WR duo in the league and have an above-average offensive line. The defense should still be ferocious, even with the retirement of Aaron Donald. Kobie Turner and rookie Jared Verse ensure the team still has a tenacious front seven on defense.

To win this game, the Vikings need to get to Stafford and establish the run game. Expect Aaron Jones to be heavily involved in this one. This matchup ranks so high due to the Vikings having to travel to Los Angeles and play on Thursday Night Football.

5. New York Jets

Sep 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) warms up before the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of QBs the Vikings know well, the team gets to play Aaron Rodgers in 2024 as well. Will Rodgers be the same QB after suffering an Achilles injury in 2023?

Even if Rodgers is not his old self, the Jets cannot be taken lightly. This team has a great room of receivers that features rookie Malachi Corley, Garrett Wilson, and Mike Williams. The defense is full of playmakers including Quinnen Williams, Haason Reddick, and Sauce Gardner. This could be a tough matchup for whoever is playing QB for the Vikings.

Adding to this game’s difficulty is that it will be played in London. Taking on a veteran team like the Jets in a different country is not the best recipe for an easy game. Yards could be hard to come by for the Vikings against this tough defense.

4. Houston Texans

Dec 3, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Nico Collins (12) celebrates his touchdown reception with center Juice Scruggs (70) and quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) against the Denver Broncos in the second half at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans were one of the NFL’s surprise teams in 2023. CJ Stroud was dynamic as a rookie and showcased why he could be one of the premier passes in the league for years to come.

The team added old friends Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs this offseason, further solidifying a talented roster. Hunter and Diggs will likely want to show out against their former teams, and they will undoubtedly be tough to combat. Can the Vikings do enough to outduel Stroud?

This will be one of the toughest games on the schedule. The Texans could have one of the best offenses and defenses in the league. The Vikings may not have the same talent as the Texans, but this being a home game makes me think the Vikings could sneak away with a win.

3. Green Bay Packers

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Oct 29, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) is pressured by Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) during their football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Wm. Glasheen-USA TODAY Sports

When are games against the Green Bay Packers not tough? The Vikings did get the better of the Pack once last season, but that was before the team got rolling. The Packers made the playoffs and even knocked off the Dallas Cowboys in convincing fashion.

The team will be trying to build off of that momentum and get further in 2024. The first matchup will be in Week 4 and then the teams won’t meet again until Week 17. Returning to Lambeau in Week 4 will be strange for Aaron Jones, who likely feels he has something to prove against his old team.

The NFC North is going to be tough in 2024. The Packers’ win total is at 9.5, and the Vikings need to split with the team if they have a chance to compete in 2024.

2. Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs (23) celebrates with defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) after intercepting a pass against the Green Bay Packers during their football game on Thursday, September 28, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Lions won the game, 34-20.
Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The Detroit Lions were one game away from reaching the Super Bowl in 2023. Unfortunately for the Vikings, the Lions don’t show any signs of regressing in 2024. The team still boasts an elite offense and added arguably the best rookie corner in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Beating the Lions will be a tough task. Roster-wise, the Lions are a couple of years ahead of the Vikings. However, what if 2023 was a fluke? What if Jared Goff comes back down to earth? It is certainly possible for the Vikings to split the series with the Lions in 2024.

However, the Lions’ win total is at 10.5 and the team has all the momentum in the world. Making Goff turn the ball over will be a key to the Vikings’ success in these matchups.

1. San Francisco 49ers

Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) runs with the ball against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The toughest matchup for the Vikings in 2024 is obvious. The San Francisco 49ers were just moments away from winning another Super Bowl in 2023, and that sour taste will still be in their mouths. The Niners boast one of the most talented rosters in the league and may have the best overall position player in Christian McCaffrey. The Niners are projected to win 11.5 games, tied for the best mark in the league.

It does help that this game is at the beginning of the season and is in Minnesota. However, thee Vikings likely don’t have the firepower to compete with the Niners just yet. Kyle Shanahan is one of the brightest offensive minds in the game and he should have a plan for whatever Brian Flores cooks up.

This game will tell us a lot about the Vikings. If they pull out a win or keep it close, it could mean this team is ready to make the playoffs. If this is a blowout, it could signal a long season ahead

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