Vikings’ 2021 schedule is out, beginning with Mike Zimmer’s return to Cincinnati

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The league announced its schedule for 2021 on Wednesday and the Vikings will open in a game televised by Fox on September 12 at 12:00 p.m. in Cincinnati. It’s her first regular season appearance since 2013, and her first since Zimmer became Minnesota’s head coach as Bengals’ defensive coordinator for six seasons in 2014.

The Vikings opened the 2016 preseason in Cincinnati and won 17-16. This game followed two days of joint training between the teams.

Before Wednesday, all of the Vikings’ opponents were known for the 2021 season, the first in NFL history with 17 games, and it was known that they would play nine games on the road and eight at home. The home opener will be against Seattle on September 26th, after Minnesota opened on September 19th with street games in Cincinnati and Arizona. It’s the first time since 2013 that the Vikings have played their first two games on the road, and the last home opener the team has been since September 27, 2009.

The Vikings will have four prime-time televised games across the country. They’ll be at home on October 31 against Dallas at US Bank Stadium on NBC Sunday night, on December 9 at home against Pittsburgh on Thursday night, December 20 in Chicago on Monday night on ESPN, and on January 2 at Green Bay on Sunday night at home his football. It’s the fourth time in six seasons that the Vikings played in Chicago on Monday.

All NFC teams play nine street games. In March it was announced that the Vikings’ 17th game against the Los Angeles Chargers will be underway, and it will be on November 14th. It will be their first game in the luxurious SoFi stadium in their second year.

The home game against Seattle is followed by visits to the US Bank Stadium in Cleveland and Detroit, where the Vikings play three home games in a row.

Perhaps the toughest stretch of the season will be having four out of five games on the road in November and December. Minnesota will be in Baltimore on November 7th with the Chargers, home of Green Bay on November 21st, in San Francisco on November 28th and in Detroit on December 5th. Four days later, the home game against Pittsburgh follows on Thursday.

For the second time in a row, the Vikings say goodbye in week 7. The difference this year is that 11 instead of 10 more games will follow.

The Vikings had no fans at home games last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lester Bagley, executive vice president of public affairs, told Pioneer Press earlier this week that the team is confident there will be “full houses at US Bank Stadium” this season.

To start off, there are a number of connections between the Vikings and the Bengali. Tackle Riley Reiff and cornerback Trae Waynes will make their regular season debut in Cincinnati after their previous team. Reiff played with the Vikings from 2017-20 before it was released and Waynes played with them from 2015-19 before leaving as a free agent and sidelining all of last season due to injury.

Paul Guenther, Senior Defensive Assistant to the Vikings in the first year, was Bengals Assistant from 2005-17, including 2014-17 as Defensive Coordinator. Cornerback Mackensie Alexander will take on his former side after playing for the Vikings from 2016-19, spending 2020 in Cincinnati and then returning to Minnesota. And first-year linebacker Nick Vigil of Minnesota will face the team he played for from 2016-19.

There will also be some LSU connections from its 2019 national championship team. The Vikings have second year recipient Justin Jefferson on that team and the Bengals have sophomore quarterback Joe Burrow and rookie recipient Ja’Marr Chase.

But the most studied connection will be Zimmer returning to Cincinnati, where he had one of the NFL’s better defenses for half a dozen seasons.

The Vikings’ regular season schedule for 2021 as well as the preseason schedule were also published on Wednesday:

PRESEASON

August 13 or 14: Denver, Fox 9

August 20 or 21: Indianapolis, Fox 9

August 27 or 28: in Kansas City, Fox 9

REGULAR SEASON

September 12th in Cincinnati, noon, Fox

September 19 in Arizona at 3:05 p.m., Fox

September 26, Seattle, 3:25 p.m., Fox

October 3rd, Cleveland, noon, CBS

October 10, Detroit, noon, Fox

October 17th in Carolina, noon, Fox

October 24 bye

October 31, Dallas, 7:20 p.m., NBC

November 7th in Baltimore, noon, Fox

Nov. 14th at Los Angeles Chargers, 3:05 p.m., Fox

Nov. 21, Green Bay, noon, Fox

Nov. 28 in San Francisco at 3:25 p.m., Fox

December 5 in Detroit, noon, CBS

December 9, Pittsburgh, 7:20 pm, Fox, NFL Network, Amazon

December 20 in Chicago, 7:15 p.m., ESPN

December 26th, Los Angeles Rams, Noon, Fox

January 2 in Green Bay at 7:20 p.m. NBC

January 9, Chicago, noon, Fox