Vikings schedule, 2021 NFL odds: Minnesota opens at Bengals, stands to potentially gain most this season if Aaron Rodgers leaves Green Bay

The Minnesota Vikings would become the team to beat in the NFC North is Green Bay is forced to trade Aaron Rodgers or he retires.
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Could Kirk Cousins open the 2021 NFL regular season as the most accomplished quarterback in the NFC North Division despite a putrid career record against teams that finished their season with a winning record and a 1-2 postseason mark? The answer to that question is likely a resounding yes if the Green Bay Packers trade three-time MVP Aaron Rodgers at some point this summer. The Vikings are in potential position to benefit more than any club (other than the one that gets Rodgers) if that happens. William Hill Sportsbook gives Minnesota an Over/Under of 8.5 victories this year, while the SportsLine Projection Model forecasts 7.4

Minnesota opens Sept. 12 at Cincinnati, and the Vikings are early 3-point favorites on the NFL odds. It could be a tough test vs. QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, rookie WR Ja'Marr Chase & Co. for a Vikings defense that was awful last year

Currently, the Vikings are +260 second-favorites to win the NFC North for the first time since 2017 with Green Bay the -125 favorite to threepeat. However, William Hill oddsmakers informed SportsLine that they would list the Vikings as around +140 favorites if Rodgers is traded and Jordan Love is Green Bay's QB this season. The Pack would slip to +175.

Minnesota handed Green Bay its only division loss last year, a 28-22 upset at Lambeau in Week 8. The Vikings got terrific seasons from Cousins (4,265 yards passing, 35 TDs), running back Dalvin Cook (1,557 yards rushing, 16 TDs) and rookie receiver Justin Jefferson (1,400 yards receiving, seven TDs) yet only finished 7-9 largely because the defense was atrocious. Jefferson and Cook earned Pro Bowl honors and Jefferson was second-team All-Pro, the first rookie wideout to earn All-Pro since Randy Moss with the Vikings in 1998. 

It's fair to say that head coach Mike Zimmer enters this season on a hot seat as the defense is his specialty and one of the team's co-defensive coordinators is his son Adam. The defense should be better in 2021, though, with the return of star defensive end Danielle Hunter, who missed all of last year injured, tackle Michael Pierce, who opted out of the 2020 season, and the free-agent signing of cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander and safety Xavier Woods. Peterson is an eight-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer. The Vikings' pass defense was a big reason that defense ranked 29th in points and 27th in yards allowed last season.

Cousins is on a guaranteed contract through 2022, but the Vikings already have started looking for his replacement. They were poised to draft Ohio State QB Justin Fields in the first round this year, but the division-rival Bears jumped ahead of Minnesota and took Fields. Minnesota went to Plan B and selected Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond in Round 3. Klint Kubiak is the Vikings' new offensive coordinator. He had been the QBs coach the past two years when his dad Gary was the OC. Gary Kubiak retired.

The Vikings' 2021 schedule is ranked as the 5th-toughest in the league as their 17 opponents – visiting the Chargers is the 17th game -- were a combined 144-127-1 last season.

Minnesota Vikings trends/William Hill Sportsbook odds

  • 2020 record: 7-9 (6-10 against the spread, 11-5 Over/Under)
  • 2021 strength of schedule rank: 5th (opponents' combined winning percentage of .531)
  • 2021 Over/Under win total: 8.5
  • SportsLine Projection Model forecasted wins: 7.4
  • Odds to win Super Bowl 56: +4000
  • To win NFC: +2000
  • To win NFC North: +260
  • To make playoffs: No -140, yes +120
  • NFL MVP odds: Kirk Cousins +6000, Dalvin Cook +6000

Minnesota Vikings Schedule

Week 1 at Cincinnati Bengals: Teams haven't met since 2017 but have split past four SU & ATS

Week 2 at Arizona Cardinals: Cards have won just three of past 10 in series and not covered since 2010

Week 3 vs. Seattle Seahawks: Minnesota covered in Seattle last year but lost 27-26

Week 4 vs. Cleveland Browns: Cleveland is 1-3 SU & ATS in series since returning to NFL

Week 5 vs. Detroit Lions: Detroit is 0-3 SU & ATS in past three meetings in Twin Cities

Week 6 at Carolina Panthers: Vikings were -3 at home last year vs. Panthers and escaped 28-27

Week 7 BYE

Week 8 vs. Dallas Cowboys (SNF): Teams played last year in Minnesota and Cowboys were 31-28 upset winners

Week 9 at Baltimore Ravens: Minnesota has covered past two in series and Over has hit in four straight

Week 10 at Los Angeles Chargers: Added 17th opponent; Bolts without ATS win in series since 2003

Week 11 vs. Green Bay Packers: Green Bay has followed three-game SU & ATS skid at Vikes with 2-0 SU & ATS run

Week 12 at San Francisco 49ers: Teams have split the past four overall, including playoffs, and all have gone Under

Week 13 at Detroit Lions: Vikings won fourth straight in Motown last year, 37-35, but failed to cover

Week 14 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (TNF): Pittsburgh is 3-1 SU & ATS in past four meetings, winning 26-9 in 2017

Week 15 at Chicago Bears (MNF): Minnesota snapped a four-game ATS skid in Chicago with 19-13 victory last year

Week 16 vs. Los Angeles Rams: L.A. had lost five straight in series until 38-31 home win three years ago

Week 17 at Green Bay Packers (SNF): Minnesota got only third win in past 10 at Lambeau last year 28-22

Week 18 vs. Chicago Bears: Vikes lost third straight at home (1-2 ATS) in series last year 33-27

Where does every player appear in our 2021 Fantasy football rankings? And which rookie quarterback will provide shocking value? Join SportsLine right now to get 2021 Fantasy football rankings, all from the model that simulated the entire season 10,000 times.

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