Breakdown: The Minnesota Vikings' success in 2015 could be determined by tough stretches at the beginning and end of the season. They open with a trip to San Francisco -- for their first Monday Night Football appearance since 2013 -- and face six straight teams that went 8-8 or better in 2014 to start the year. And at the end of the season, the Vikings get Seattle at home, followed by a Thursday night trip to Arizona before two home games and a visit to Lambeau Field to close the season. We knew there were a number of tough matchups for the Vikings this season, but the NFL packed many of them into the bookends of the schedule. The good news for the Vikings is the middle of the schedule appears forgiving, and three of the last five games are at home. Bundle up for your farewell to TCF Bank Stadium.
Complaint department: If anything, it's got to be the early stretch of the schedule. The Vikings will start the year with a long flight, followed by a short week heading into a division game, and get Peyton Manning on the road in Week 4. An early bye helps break up the gauntlet somewhat, but the Vikings could use that respite later in the season. It'll be the second time in three years the Vikings have their bye before Week 6.
Super Bowl celebrations: The NFL is celebrating the Super Bowl's 50th anniversary by highlighting a number of championship game rematches on the schedule. The Vikings have two such games -- in Week 6 against the Chiefs (who beat them in Super Bowl IV), and Week 10 in Oakland against the Raiders (who defeated them in Super Bowl XI). They'll be accompanied in Week 6 by rematches of Super Bowls XLIII (Steelers-Cardinals) and XLVIII (Ravens-49ers). In Week 10, the Giants and Patriots -- foes in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI -- join the Vikings on the rematch slate.
Strength of schedule: 12th, .539
Vikings regular-season shedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 14, at San Francisco, 10:20 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, Detroit, 1:00 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, San Diego, 1:00 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at Denver, 4:25 p.m.
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, Kansas City, 1:00 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at Detroit, 1:00 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at Chicago, 1:00 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, St. Louis, 1:00 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, Green Bay, 1:00 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, at Atlanta, 1:00 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, Seattle, 1:00 p.m.
Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 10, at Arizona, 8:25 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, Chicago, 1:00 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, NY Giants, 1:00 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at Green Bay, 1:00 p.m.