Watch Now: Ranking QB, RB, WR Trios: Vikings at No. 5 (2:47)

Only time will tell whether the 2020 NFL season kicks off on time and holds its standard 17-week regular season. But even with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic abbreviating teams' in-person offseason programs -- and perhaps, eventually, eliminating them entirely -- the league is preparing to proceed as planned come September, with 256 games on the slate starting Sept. 10.

If/when games begin, one of the most interesting teams to watch will be the Minnesota Vikings, who have gone to the playoffs three times in the last five years but haven't strung together back-to-back postseason trips since 2008-2009. Three years removed from an NFC Championship bid, the team went 10-6 in 2019 and advanced to the Divisional Round, and after a re-commitment to Kirk Cousins, Mike Zimmer and the incumbent regime, they figure to once again vie for an NFC North title.

In celebration of (hopefully) football on the horizon, here's a way-too-early week-by-week prediction for all 16 of the Vikings' regular season games on the schedule, complete with over/under win totals for every opponent courtesy of William Hill Sports Book, as well as Week 1 and 2 lines. The Vikings' O/U is 9 wins:

Week 1 vs. Packers

Line: Vikings -3.5
Opponent win total: 
O/U 9

Prediction: Aaron Rodgers comes to U.S. Bank confident he'll do work on Minnesota's rebuilt secondary, and he does just that. But Kirk Cousins gets in an early rhythm with a rejuvenated Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook breaks off a couple of huge runs. Minnesota needs every ounce of effort to do it, but they win 26-23.

Projected record: 1-0

Week 2 at Colts

Line: Colts -3
Opponent win total: O/U 9

Prediction: The Colts welcome the Vikings as rightful favorites, then proceed to bottle up the visitors' Cook-led rushing attack as Indy officially welcomes DeForest Buckner to town. Philip Rivers, meanwhile, throws for nearly 400 yards against Mike Zimmer's young, puzzled cornerback group as the Vikes lose 28-20.

Projected record: 1-1

Week 3 vs. Titans

Opponent win total: O/U 8.5

Prediction: In a matchup of two old-school, ground-and-pound contenders, the Vikings benefit from returning home, where Danielle Hunter gets after Ryan Tannehill for a big day and Minnesota's front seven grinds Derrick Henry to a halt as they win 19-14.

Projected record: 2-1

Week 4 at Texans

Opponent win total: O/U 8

Prediction: Thielen goes off once again, proving that Cousins doesn't necessarily need Stefon Diggs to air it out deep. But it's not nearly enough to overcome Houston's own attack, with Deshaun Watson eluding pressure to carve up Minnesota's CBs with a ton of intermediate darts to Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. Vikings lose 31-24.

Projected record: 2-2

Week 5 at Seahawks

Opponent win total: O/U 9.5

Prediction: Michael Pierce and the rest of the Vikings' interior D-line wreak some early-game havoc against a reshuffled Seattle front, but Russell Wilson seizes the Sunday night spotlight at home, as per usual, by methodically marching up and down the field in the second half. Cousins gets a chance at a last-minute comeback but is picked off by Quandre Diggs. Vikings lose 27-23.

Projected record: 2-3

Week 6 vs. Falcons

Opponent win total: O/U 7.5

Prediction: Julio Jones comes close to breaking Terrell Owens' single-game catch record with a whopping 19 receptions working Minnesota's inexperienced corners, and familiar face Laquon Treadwell scores in his homecoming. Cook and Alexander Mattison team up for a monster day, however, to help the Vikings win 34-26 heading into the bye.

Projected record: 3-3

Week 8 at Packers

Opponent win total: O/U 9

Prediction: Rested up after the bye, Cousins and Co. jump out to an early lead thanks to lots of production from Justin Jefferson over the middle. But Rodgers is too fired up to avenge his Opening Day loss, and a second-half surge from Mike Pettine's defense, complete with a killer strip-sack from Rashan Gary, evens the 2020 series as the Vikings lose 25-21.

Projected record: 3-4

Week 9 vs. Lions

Opponent win total: O/U 6.5

Prediction: With Matthew Stafford back in tow and enjoying the company of D'Andre Swift, the Lions air it out and go up big to threaten a second straight NFC North loss for Minnesota. Fortunately for Vikings fans, a rallying halftime speech from Cousins sets the stage for a three-score comeback as Matt Patricia's veteran defense collapses. Vikings win 38-30.

Projected record: 4-4

Week 10 at Bears

Opponent win total: O/U 8

Prediction: With Week 9's exhilarating comeback still fresh on their minds, the Vikings forget just how dangerous a Khalil Mack-led pass rush can be, and Cousins takes some hard hits from Chicago's front, particularly a healthy Akiem Hicks. Nick Foles, meanwhile, exacts a heavy toll on Minnesota with a pair of bombs to Ted Ginn. Vikings lose 27-17.

Projected record: 4-5

Week 11 vs. Cowboys

Opponent win total: O/U 9.5

Prediction: Heavy underdogs to Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy's powerhouse offense, Zimmer makes sure that Gary Kubiak keeps the ball in Minnesota's hands, and the plan works: Cook, Thielen and Jefferson combine to help Cousins play safe, methodical football and spoil a late-season victory for Dallas. Vikings win 26-22.

Projected record: 5-5

Week 12 vs. Panthers

Opponent win total: O/U 5.5

Prediction: Teddy Bridgewater gets a warm welcome back to the Twin Cities while opening under center for Carolina, but he can't do much more than settle for short stuff with Danielle Hunter in his face. Thielen, meanwhile, continues his comeback tour by posting nearly 200 receiving yards against Matt Rhule's rebuilding secondary. Vikings win 34-20.

Projected record: 6-5

Week 13 vs. Jaguars

Opponent win total: O/U 4.5

Prediction: Thoroughly enjoying their home stand, the Vikes finish off the three-game staycation with maybe their most impressive victory yet, in which Cousins lights up Jacksonville's young "D" and has Minnesota looking like a restored contender. Vikings stifle the Gardner Minshew hype as they win 37-16.

Projected record: 7-5

Week 14 at Buccaneers

Opponent win total: O/U 9.5

Prediction: Tom Brady didn't necessarily scare Mike Zimmer coming into the season, but he does here, absolutely unloading with shots to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin throughout the afternoon. It's not a pretty sight for Minnesota in sunny Florida, where the Vikings lose 45-27 and are forced to regroup yet again in their hunt for a playoff berth.

Projected record: 7-6

Week 15 vs. Bears

Opponent win total: O/U 8

Prediction: Foles isn't nearly as sharp as he was weeks earlier, in part due to Chicago's faltering supporting cast. Cousins, meanwhile, steps up to get the ball out quickly in the face of more pressure, benefiting from a surprise breakout from Irv Smith Jr. The Vikings stay alive in the North as they win 29-18.

Projected record: 8-6

Week 16 at Saints

Opponent win total: O/U 10.5

Prediction: Fighting for their own spot in the NFC playoff picture, the Saints waste no time pouring it on at home, with Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders all garnering Offensive Player of the Week consideration in an explosive outing against a step-behind Minnesota defense. Ex-Viking Latavius Murray seals the deal with a late score. Vikings lose 32-24.

Projected record: 8-7

Week 17 at Lions

Opponent win total: O/U 6.5

Prediction: Faced with an opportunity to clinch one of the NFC's extra wild card spots, the Vikings go down to the wire with Patricia's Lions, who get another boost from Stafford's big arm. In the end, Cousins is ultra-efficient down the stretch to capitalize on Detroit's ailing secondary, with Dan Bailey securing Minnesota's trip back to the playoffs on a late field goal. Vikings win 27-24.

Projected record: 9-7