Vikings Meander into NFL’s Top Half of Power Rankings

Draft Grade from Last
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

Is Justin Jefferson’s trip to injured reserve for at least a month a problem? Nope.

How about the franchise quarterback? Do you need him? Apparently not.

Vikings Meander into NFL’s Top Half of Power Rankings

The Minnesota Vikings sunk to a season-low in Week 5 at home versus the Kansas City Chiefs, holding their own against the world champions but losing nevertheless. At that moment, the club fell to 1-4, lost Jefferson for at least four games, and owned the NFL’s most rotten turnover differential at -9.

Vikings Meander
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

But then Minnesota began winning games — because, of course, they did. Dalton Risner started seeing the field, T.J. Hockenson fixed a few sins from the season’s first few games, Jordan Addison arrived as a bonafide WR1, and the Vikings defense matured on the fly while forcing turnovers.

Suddenly, Kevin O’Connell’s team is 5-4, temporary owners of the NFC’s No. 7 playoff seed, 0.5 games out of 5th place and 1.5 games behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North.

It took a while — mainly because of flummoxing turnovers — but the Vikings are here, even without Kirk Cousins for the rest of 2023.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

And don’t look now, but Minnesota has crossed over into the league’s top half of power rankings, according to Sporting News. The sports media outfit ranked all 32 teams, and the Vikings checked in at No. 14 after Week 9.

“How about Josh Dobbs? They didn’t start him, but he sure did finish off the Falcons to keep their momentum going without Kirk Cousins. They’re right back in the thick of the NFC wild-card race and still have two left with the Lions in the final three games,” SN‘s Vinnie Iyer wrote.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

Dobbs was an unforeseen delight at the Atlanta Falcons three days ago, completing 20 passes on 30 attempts for 156 yards, with 66 rushing yards, 3 total touchdowns, 2 lost fumbles, and a safety surrendered. The man took a bit to settle into the game’s flow, but when he did, the result was as epic as it was mind-boggling.

The former Arizona Cardinal, acquired via trade five days prior, led Minnesota to an improbable road victory, knocking off the then-division-leading Falcons to nudge the Vikings upward in the NFC’s playoff picture.

Folks have noticed, especially because Minnesota lived in the basement of almost all power-ranking batches one month ago. How did the Vikings turn the enterprise around after an 0-3 start and then a 1-4 standing after Week 5? Simple — the defense arrived. That’ll do it every time.

Vikings Defense,
per EPA/Play,

Weeks 1-3 = 26th
Weeks 4-9 = 7th

Aspect of Vikings
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports.

No longer are Justin Herberts, Jalen Hurtses, and Baker Mayfields abusing Brian Flores’ defense. It’s the other way around. Flores’ group nestled into their maturation since losing to the Los Angeles Chargers, and the outcome is the NFL’s seventh-best defense.

Meanwhile, the Vikings schedule remains navigable, at least per possible wins, for the next several weeks. Here are the upcoming opponents:

  • Week 10: vs. New Orleans Saints
  • Week 11: at Denver Broncos
  • Week 12: vs. Chicago Bears
  • Week 13: BYE
  • Week 14: at Las Vegas Raiders

Unless the aforementioned Dobbs turns into a pumpkin or the Vikings defense oddly regresses, the climb up folks’ power rankings will likely continue.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by