3 ways the NFL helped the Vikings with the 2024 schedule

Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson / David Berding/GettyImages

The 2024 Minnesota Vikings schedule was released on Wednesday, and it should have a big role in the upcoming season.

While the schedule makers did leave the Vikings a little shorthanded, they also provided several benefits that could help them return to the playoffs this season.

In this article, we’ll look at three things the Vikings can be thankful for as they prepare for the 2024 season.

3 ways the NFL helped the Minnesota Vikings with the 2024 schedule

1. Thursday Night game for the Vikings is against a very familiar opponent

Thursday night games are tough for a variety of reasons. But while recovery is at a premium, so is practice time as teams only have three days to prepare for their opponent.

Fortunately for the Vikings, they’ll be very familiar with the team on the opposite end of the field. Minnesota will travel to face the Los Angeles Rams for a Thursday night matchup in Week 8, and it will be a game likely to be considered to be the “McVay Bowl” as Kevin O’Connell battles Sean McVay.

One of O’Connell’s first stops in his coaching career came shortly after McVay left the Washington Commanders in 2017, and O’Connell connected with McVay a few years later when he was the offensive coordinator on a Rams team that won the Super Bowl in 2021.

When O’Connell left to take the head coaching job in Minnesota, he modeled his infrastructure based on McVay’s in Los Angeles and should have an easy time identifying the concepts in his opponent's offense – even on short notice.

It’s unknown whether this will give the Vikings a victory in Los Angeles, but it should definitely give them an advantage in a tough situation.

2. A soft starting spot for J.J. McCarthy

Sam Darnold is currently the projected starting quarterback for the Vikings, but everyone wants to know when rookie J.J. McCarthy will take his place as the quarterback of the future. The 10th overall pick in last month’s NFL Draft, it’s a matter of when not if McCarthy will start for the Vikings, and the perfect opportunity could come in Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts.

The beginning of the season is a gauntlet for the Vikings, as they’ll play five playoff teams in the first seven games and just three of them inside U.S. Bank Stadium. While some fans may eye the Week 6 bye as the perfect time to get McCarthy up to speed for his first start, coming out of the gate against the defending NFC North champion Detroit Lions in Week 7 might not be the best idea.

That’s why the call could come two weeks later after the Vikings battle the Rams in Los Angeles. With 10 days to prepare, McCarthy could make his first start at home against the Colts before playing seven straight games against teams that missed the playoffs last season.

An even better perk might be that these games could come at home with four out of the final six games in Minneapolis. Turning McCarthy loose in a controlled environment could be what O’Connell is looking for before allowing him to take over the Vikings’ offense.

3. Vikings have a limited amount of cold-weather games

While the Vikings aren’t as dependent on the weather as some teams—we’re looking at you, Miami—they would much rather play in warmer weather or controlled environments during the second half of the season.

The Vikings will play the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in what could be a chilly game on November 24 before playing three straight games at U.S. Bank Stadium. While the Vikings have to go on the road and play in a rainy Seattle in Week 16, they’ll play the Packers inside instead of the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in Week 17 and play indoors when they travel to take on the Detroit Lions in Week 18.

With the Vikings possibly looking to make up ground at the end of the year, playing in ideal conditions could be a major advantage for them.

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