The Minnesota Vikings will be led by a new regime in 2022 after the hiring of head coach Kevin O'Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. They will be tasked with leading the team back to the postseason after it fell short in each of the past two years.
O'Connell spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, helping to lead the team to victory in Super Bowl LVI. His offensive attack with the Rams was predicated on the passing game, which should be welcomed by Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The 33-year-old reached his third career Pro Bowl in 2021 after throwing for 4,221 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Cousins has enjoyed a special chemistry with receiver Justin Jefferson, who has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons in the NFL.
Minnesota also used its first two draft picks on safety Lewis Cine and cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., filling holes on a pass defense that ranked 28th in the league last season after giving up 252.9 yards per game.
The Vikings have been a middling team for the past couple of years, and they could've been in the playoffs if not for a few disappointing finishes. If the team has learned from its mistakes, the upcoming season could see a breakthrough for Minnesota.
After the NFL revealed the 2022 schedule on Thursday, here's a look at the upcoming slate for the Vikings.
2022 Minnesota Vikings Schedule
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Full television schedule can be found on the team's official website.
Much like their NFC North counterparts, the Vikings face a fairly easy group of opponents, at least on paper. According to The Red Zone, Minnesota's strength of schedule ranks 20th based on last season's winning percentage.
A key reason the Vikings and their division rivals face such a soft schedule lies in the NFC North itself. The division is undeniably one of the weakest in the league thanks to the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, both of which are rebuilding teams.
After last year's second-place finish in the division, Minnesota will face a trio of other second-place teams in the Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints.
The Vikings will also be up against the entire NFC East and AFC East, which feature the lowly New York Giants and New York Jets, respectively.
Minnesota will have ample chances to compete for a playoff spot in the NFC, but the team can't afford missteps against lesser opponents.
If the Vikings hope to make the postseason, the most important matchups will be against the Big Bad Wolves of the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have won three consecutive division titles, and the Vikings are the only thing standing in their way of a fourth.
Minnesota split the season series with Green Bay in each of the past two years, and it should hope to duplicate or improve on that in 2022.
While reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers will be extra motivated after the Packers' disappointing finish in the playoffs, he is leading a new-look team that no longer includes his most trusted weapons after the departures of receivers Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
The Vikings will also have tough matchups against the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys, both of whom won their respective divisions. Minnesota fell to Dallas 20-16 in Week 8 last year.
There are a few toss-up games for the Vikings against evenly matched teams such as the Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins. Wins in any or all of those games will be crucial to Minnesota's playoff hopes.
The Vikings have enough talent on both sides of the ball to push for a postseason berth in the NFC. But there will be added pressure for Minnesota to avoid any slip-ups throughout the year.
If the Vikings take care of business the way they're capable of, look for them to compete for an NFC wild-card spot with a 10-7 record.