CBS Sports Flings Vikings up Power Rankings for No Apparent Reason

CBS Sports Flings Vikings up Power Rankings for No Apparent Reason
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

The last time CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco authored his NFL power rankings in May, the Minnesota Vikings lived in the No. 20 hole.

But mere days before the 2022 season begins, Prisco flung the Vikings up eight spots — for no apparent reason — plopping Minnesota at No. 12.

Prisco’s last batch reflected the lay of the land after the NFL draft. Since then, the Vikings have gone through a training camp, preseason, and traded for three players — Jalen Reagor (WR), Ross Blacklock (DT), and Nick Mullens (QB). And despite Minnesota losing all three preseason contests, Prisco evidently saw enough to change his mind — vehemently. Although, the smoking gun is unclear.

Sandwiching Minnesota at No. 12 between the Las Vegas Raiders (No. 13) and the Indianapolis Colts (No. 11), Prisco wrote about the 2022 Vikings, “New coach Kevin O’Connell has a different style from Mike Zimmer, which players say is refreshing. The defense has to be better than a year ago because the offense should be explosive.”

Vikings Top Performers vs. 49ers, per PFF
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Near the end of August, Prisco visited NFL teams’ practices, and when he departed Eagan, Minnesota, he was impressed. He even tweeted about the Vikings, offering a playoff forecast for O’Connell’s bunch.

Prisco’s tweet above and subsequent No. 12 ranking symbolize growing national enthusiasm for Minnesota, a team forecasted to win 8.5 games for most of the spring and summer. However, after bettors evidently flocked to the Vikings over-under for wagering, the predicted win total climbed to 9.5 in August. Minnesota in considered a fringe playoff team with the regular season beginning on Thursday.

Also in August, former Vikings quarterback and NFL MVP Rich Gannon declared the Vikings 2022 offense would be groundbreaking. Gannon claimed Kirk Cousins was capable of tossing 5,000 passing yards while Justin Jefferson would take career steps akin to Jerry Rice. And Gannon uttered those prophecies unsolicited.

For Prisco or Gannon to be vindicated, first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell must “figure it out” immediately. The Vikings moved on from the Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer amalgam in January, and the transition essentially hinted at a “new brand” of purple football. While the general manager and head coach are philosophically different, the same roster is mainly intact. First-time general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed about a dozen fresh free agents, traded like fiend in the NFL Draft, and onboarded 10 new rookies. Yet, when the dust settled, the Vikings 2022 roster resembles last year’s version.

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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell

The top three NFL teams according to Prisco? The Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, and Kansas City Chiefs? The Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and Chicago Bears are the worst in his estimation.

The Vikings haven’t encountered three consecutive losing seasons since franchise inception from 1961 to 1963. That “streak” is on the line during O’Connell’s maiden voyage as Minnesota finished 7-9 in 2020 and 8-9 in 2021.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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