2016 Minnesota Vikings game-by-game predictions

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 11 at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET

The Vikings will open on the road for the eighth time in nine years, as Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota square off for the first time. Even though the Titans should improve, thanks to Mariota's development and the bounty of draft picks they secured in their trade with the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, the Vikings should be able to get off to a good start here. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 18 vs. Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Vikings will open U.S. Bank Stadium in style, against their archrival on Sunday night. The last time these teams met, the Vikings swiped the division title from the Packers in Week 17. Vikings fans might have a little trepidation about Aaron Rodgers & Co. ruining their big night, but in what should be an electric atmosphere, the Vikings' defense will harass Rodgers enough to help secure a victory. Record: 2-0

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 25 at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. ET

Much like the Vikings' early-season trip to Denver last year, this looms as the most difficult road challenge on the 2016 schedule. Cam Newton and the Panthers' defense will be tough for the Vikings to handle on the road, and Minnesota will come home with its first loss of the year. Record: 2-1

Week 4: Monday, Oct. 3 vs. New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. ET

U.S. Bank's second regular-season game will be in prime time, as the Giants come to town for the first of Minnesota's two Monday Night Football matchups. The Vikings didn't have to face Odell Beckham in their Week 16 win over the Giants last year, but they'll be able to rattle Eli Manning and get to 3-1 with another nationally televised victory. Record: 3-1

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9 vs. Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET

This could be the first slip-up for the Vikings in their new stadium, as they face the Texans' tough defense on a short week. J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus & Co. could make things difficult for the Vikings. Also, pencil it in now: Xavier Rhodes will be shadowing DeAndre Hopkins that day. Record: 3-2

Week 6: Bye week

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23 at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. ET

It's difficult to know at this juncture what to make of the Eagles, who'll have a markedly different look after three years under Chip Kelly. But coming off a bye week, the Vikings should be fresh, and they'll be able to secure another road win on the East Coast. Record: 4-2

Week 8: Monday, Oct. 31 at Chicago Bears, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Vikings won at Soldier Field for the first time since 2007 a year ago, and put an end to a run of futility in prime-time games at the end of 2015. They'll get to see if they can keep things going in the right direction on both fronts on Monday Night Football. The guess here is they will, as they prey on a Bears defense that has struggled to stop the run in recent years. Record: 5-2

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6 vs. Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET

In the first of two back-to-back NFC North stretches, the Vikings will get their first look at the Lions without Calvin Johnson. They should get a victory at home, as they take advantage of U.S. Bank Stadium's noise to rattle Matthew Stafford, as they did in Week 2 last year. Record: 6-2

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13 at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m. ET

The Redskins can score plenty of points with Kirk Cousins running their offense, but they also gave up 414 last season. The Vikings aren't exactly built for games that turn into track meets, but their defense should be good enough that this won't turn into one. Record: 7-2

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m. ET

For the second year in a row, the Vikings get the Cardinals in a week where they're playing on both Sunday and Thursday. They'll be looking to get a win here after a narrow defeat in the desert last December -- and you can bet Mike Zimmer will remind the Vikings about the NFC divisional playoff matchup with the Cardinals they never got last year. But Arizona was 7-1 on the road in the regular season last year, and the Cardinals will present a tough matchup. Record: 7-3

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 24 at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. ET

In the Vikings' first Thanksgiving Day appearance since 2000, they'll have to shake off a defeat against the Cardinals in time for a Lions team that typically gets up for its annual holiday game (remember the 45-14 thrashing Detroit gave Philadelphia last year?). The Vikings could slip up here. Record: 7-4

Week 13: Thursday, Dec. 1 vs. Dallas Cowboys, 8:25 p.m. ET

If the Cowboys aren't as riddled with injuries as they were a year ago, this could be a tough matchup for the Vikings, given Dallas' formidable offensive line and the Vikings' task of dealing with Dez Bryant. But this one will carry some extra meaning for Zimmer, given the time he spent in Dallas and the fact his children grew up there. The Vikings will get things sorted out after a pair of losses and edge the Cowboys in another prime-time game. Record: 8-4

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11 at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET

Teddy Bridgewater got a win against one member of the 2014 quarterback draft class last season, and he'll try to get the better of Blake Bortles in a matchup of two Florida natives. The Jaguars' offense was improved last year, but their defense is still too porous for the Vikings to lose to them here. Record: 9-4

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18 vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET

Andrew Luck faces the Vikings for the first time since his NFL home debut back in 2012. If Luck is back to the player he was before last season, this will be a tough matchup for the Vikings. But with the playoffs drawing near, the Vikings will get a victory at home. Record: 10-4

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24 at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m. ET

A short week wraps up with what might be the Vikings' lone cold-weather contest of the season. There could be plenty on the line in this one, and if the Packers are healthy (which seems to be a big "if" these days), it's tough to see the Vikings getting a season sweep of their rivals. Give this one to the home team, in a matchup that could be pivotal for playoff positioning. Record: 10-5

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1 vs. Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. ET

The Vikings haven't lost to the Bears at home since 2011, and if they're in the running for another playoff spot, the guess here is they'll finish the regular season with a win, closing out their first regular season at U.S. Bank Stadium in style. Record: 11-5