Vikings almost had a different Week 1 opponent for the 2021 season

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Dalvin Cook
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Dalvin Cook /

Prior to the 2021 NFL schedule being officially set, the Minnesota Vikings were initially supposed to take on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1.

When the 2021 schedule for the Minnesota Vikings was released last week, the purple and gold found out they were heading out on the road in Week 1 to take on Cincinnati Bengals.

With the roster improvements made by the Vikings during the last few months and the Bengals having a potentially dangerous offense, it should be one of the most intriguing matchups taking place in Week 1 next season.

Recently, NBC Sports’ Peter King shared a number of behind-the-scenes details about the NFL’s schedule-making process, and it revealed something pretty interesting about how Minnesota was actually supposed to open the 2021 campaign on the west coast.

Minnesota Vikings were originally scheduled to open the 2021 season against the San Francisco 49ers

Among the things that King shared about how the league constructed the 2021 schedule, he mentioned that the Vikings were originally supposed to head out west for their first game of the year to take on the San Francisco 49ers.

So to kick off their 2021 season, Minnesota would have had to face the 49ers and Arizona Cardinals on the road in back-to-back weeks.

However, the NFL’s schedule makers wanted to change one of these two opponents for the Vikings in order to decrease the travel time for their first two road matchups of the year.

So the league decided to change Minnesota’s Week 1 opponent from San Francisco to Cincinnati. According to King, this change will save the Vikings a total of three hours in travel time.

Even with the extended travel time, Minnesota might have preferred to take on the 49ers in Week 1 instead of the Bengals. The Vikings would have likely faced a San Francisco team with Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback instead of rookie Trey Lance, who could be ready to start by the time Minnesota actually takes on the 49ers in Week 12 next season.

Hopefully, this scheduling change doesn’t end up playing a factor in the Vikings’ chances to get back into the playoffs in 2021.