ESPN’s ‘Football Power Index’ Wildly Unkind to Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings usually rank in the middle of the pack per ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). But 2024 is different.

ESPN’s ‘Football Power Index’ Wildly Unkind to Vikings

Heading into a new campaign, with changes at quarterback, EDGE rusher, and running back, ESPN’s FPI perceives Minnesota as the league’s eighth-worst team. A new FPI is published each spring, and this year’s edition is unkind to the Vikings.

Football Power Index
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For starters, here’s the official definition of the Football Power Index: “A measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily.”

Minnesota checked in at No. 25, sandwiched between the Las Vegas Raiders (No. 24) and New Orleans Saints (No. 26). The San Francisco 49ers (No. 1), Kanas City Chiefs (No. 2), and Baltimore Ravens (No. 3) led the way, respectively, with the bottom tier filled out by the Denver Broncos (No. 30), New England Patriots (No. 31), and Carolina Panthers (No. 32).

Breakout Player
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Not for nothing, if the FPI is anywhere close to accurate in 2024, Minnesota would hold a fancy draft pick next April after holding on to its 1st-Rounder in 2025 despite numerous theories suggesting it could be traded during last month’s draft.

This year’s FPI particularly scrutinized the Vikings’ offense, ranking Wes Phillips’ unit as sixth-worst in the sport. That’s the price to pay, apparently, when Kirk Cousins departed for the Atlanta Falcons and the Vikings welcomed the new quarterback duo of Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy. It’s a brave new world at quarterback while general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah added running back Aaron Jones from the Green Bay Packers in free agency.

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On defense, FPI was nicer to Minnesota, placing Brian Flores’ group at No. 18. Adofo-Mensah added oodles for fresh faces on defense this offseason, including Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, Dallas Turner, Blake Cashman, Khyree Jackson, Jerry Tillery, and rookie Khyree Jackson. Last year, Minnesota’s defense ranked 11th per DVOA, a popular metric adjudicating efficiency.

Strength of schedule is also a problem, noted by ESPN’s FPI. The Vikings have the NFL’s fifth-hardest docket of opponents in 2024.

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Most of the team’s fans believe the defense will fly high this season, meaning the quarterback will determine the overall performance. If Darnold or McCarthy produce, perhaps the eighth-worst ranking can improve.

Last season, Minnesota ranked 15th per the same FPI metric at this time on the calendar.

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