Vikings take a step back in the power rankings during the week off
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 08: Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O’Neill (75) takes the field during a game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Minnesota Vikings on September 8, 2019 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Nick Wosika / Sportswire Icon via Getty Images)
The Minnesota Vikings took a week off – and lost ground in the pecking order of national opinion.
Why? Because the Las Vegas Raiders’ victory over the Philadelphia Eagles propelled Derek Carr’s team to 11th place as bring the Vikings back to # 15, through NFL.com weekly power rankings.
Last week, Minnesota lived in the 14e lunge after a thrilling victory over the Carolina Panthers, although the Vikings should have stomped on the Panthers’ necks several times before the game became throbbing.
Dan Hanzus from NFL.com sandwiched the Vikings this week between the Kansas City Chiefs (# 14) and the Indianapolis Colts (# 16). The Chiefs are in upheaval never before seen in Mahomes’ day, while the Colts have rebounded well lately after a horrific 0-3 start until 2021.
For Minnesota heading into Week 8, Hanzus was keen to talk about quarterback Kirk Cousins and his impact on the Vikings 3-3:
“In a recent edition the Around the NFL podcast, we probed the Vikings beat a reporter Arif Hasan on Mike Zimmer’s relationship with Kirk’s cousins. The tension between the head coach and the starting quarterback seems palpable sometimes, but Hasan has claimed that any frustration with Cousins as a QB (or teammate) is largely offset by his play. The veteran may never inspire lengthy monologues about his leadership abilities, but he’s stacking them up. numbers, year after year. The production will surprise you: In 58 games as a Minnesota starter, Cousins completed more than 69% of his 1,805 attempts for 104 touchdowns and just 31 interceptions. His passer rating of 103.9 over this period represents the production of a star. Why don’t we see it that way? “
The answer to Hanzus’ question concerns the Viking offensive line. Since Cousins joined the franchise in 2018, Minnesota’s offensive line’s strong sense of pass protection has been appalling most of the time. In 2021, the group improved – and surprise, surprise – as did Cousins’ general opinion.
Fortunately – unlikely 2020 – the Vikings ‘defense plays competently, which makes Cousins’ life a bit easier. In seven weeks, Minnesota ranks 13e in the NFL in points allowed per game. At the end of the pandemic season, the Vikings were fourth in the leagueworse team by points allowed. With small steps, head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense is returning to Zimmerian form.
Should the playoffs begin this afternoon, the Vikings would own the seventh seed, putting them in a road contest with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many NFC teams theorized as contenders – the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, for example – have run into trouble, paving the way for the Vikings to take last place in the playoff positioning.
Minnesota’s next four games – Dallas, Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay – do not bode well. But if the Vikings can keep their serve at around 2-2, Zimmer’s side should be in a good position to stay in the playoff race after a 0-2 start through 2021.
The Vikings host the Dallas Cowboys this weekend on Halloween night. According to Hanzus’ ranking, the Cowboys are the fourth best team in the NFL in seven weeks.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. Its Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Guilty pleasures listed: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, “The Sopranos” and The Doors (the band).