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NFL Power Rankings: Vikings Being Recognized as Legit Contenders?

Posted Nov 14, 2017

The Vikings defeated the Washington Redskins 38-30 in a shootout at FedExField during Week 10.

Minnesota has won five consecutive games and looks to keep the train rolling against the Los Angeles Rams as the team returns to U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time since defeating the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7.

The experts released their Power Rankings lists heading into Week 11 on Tuesday morning.

We’ll take a look at where the Vikings rank and how their rank changed from Week 10 below:


6: (Same Spot): Elliot Harrison - NFL.com

Quarterback Case Keenum looked as though he was playing to win the job in 2018 -- until that fourth quarter. Keenum tossed four touchdowns on the road against a Redskins team that just shut down the Seahawks. (We'll pretend those two D.J. Swearinger interceptions never happened.) Then there was Adam Thielen's performance. Make no mistake, Keenum-to-Thielen (eight hookups for 166 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets) was the most unstoppable connection on the planet -- the world -- Sunday. Those guys straight wiped out whoever was in coverage, be it Bashaud Breeland or, yes, even Josh Norman. Thielen is ranked in the top three in the league in receiving yards. It ain't fluky.


6: (Down 2 Spots): ESPN.com

Projected wins: 11.1. Case Keenum has the third-best Total QBR this season (72.5). He has been sacked just once since Week 4, and if he can keep up this level of play, the Vikings should cruise to 11 wins.


8: (Up 1 Spot): Frank Schwab – Yahoo Sports

When you look at all the surprise stories in the NFL this season, the one you’d have the hardest time explaining is the Minnesota Vikings. They’re the biggest surprise in the NFL this season because given the adversity they have been through, they have no business being 7-2.

We’ve seen teams crater after losing their starting quarterback. Sam Bradford hasn’t played [a full game] since Week 1, and if you want to count Teddy Bridgewater, he hasn’t played in a season-and-a-half. That means the Vikings are actually on their third option at quarterback.

The Vikings’ top pick was second-round running back Dalvin Cook, and he became the focal point of their offense right away. He tore his ACL. The Vikings didn’t have a first-round pick due to the Bradford trade last year. The Vikings haven’t gotten a ton out of their draft class except for four games from Cook and doing well to find starting center Pat Elflein in the third round (which is no small thing).

And if being without their top two quarterbacks and impact rookie running back wasn’t enough, dynamic receiver Stefon Diggs missed two games this season too. Some teams fall apart without their quarterback, starting tailback or top receiver. The Vikings have spent time without all of them and it hasn’t mattered.

If the Vikings keep this up, Mike Zimmer will get some consideration as coach of the year. Sean McVay of the Rams has had a bigger impact, but he hasn’t dealt with the adversity Zimmer has this season. That the Vikings turned journeyman Case Keenum into an above-average starter might be the coaching staff’s most impressive feat. Among regular starting quarterbacks (not counting those on injured reserve), Keenum’s 92.6 passer rating ranks 12th.

The Vikings are proof that there are paths to being a good team if you don’t have a great quarterback. The defense is full of stars and is ranked fifth in points and yards allowed. Minnesota has built a good cast around the quarterback position. Receiver Adam Thielen was an undrafted gem that helps make up for Treadwell being a disappointment. Kyle Rudolph is a reliable tight end. The offensive line was upgraded in the offseason. Jerick McKinnon has done his best Cook impression, and Murray is a good hammer as his complement. Keenum has played well, and he has had a lot of help. This isn’t your typical NFL success story, but it’s a pretty good one.

There’s no reason to believe the Vikings will fade, though it’s understandable if Minnesota fans are worried about it. The Vikings were 5-0 last season, and then lost eight of their last 11. Last year’s team couldn’t block and was horrendous running the ball, which really hurt the Vikings down the stretch. They have turned those two weaknesses into relative strengths this season. Last year’s team was also run down by the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers isn’t in the picture this season because Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr broke his collarbone a few weeks ago.

The Vikings are clearly the best team in the NFC North, and should win the division. There are four very surprising first-place teams in the NFC, but the Vikings might be the best story of them all.


6: (Same Spot) Pete Prisco – CBS Sports

When the NFL schedule came out last April, who expected Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings to be a big game?

If you say it's you, I call liar.

Yet that's what we get this week in Minneapolis. Two of the NFC's best teams, two teams trying to stake a claim as the conference's best, go at it in what is the game of the week.

It is a game that features two teams in the top 10 of my Power Rankings this week, both with 7-2 records. So where were they in the rankings when the season began?

The Vikings were 21st in my rankings and the Rams were 26th, which shows you what the heck I know.

Both Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and Rams coach Sean McVay have done outstanding jobs with their teams. In his first year, McVay has taken a woeful offense and turned it into the league's top-scoring unit. Zimmer saw quarterback Sam Bradford and rookie runner Dalvin Cook both go down for the season with injuries, and all his team does is keep on winning.

I can't wait to watch the Rams offense against the Vikings defense, which is tied for fifth in scoring defense. But keep an eye on Case Keenum against the improving Rams defense.

Seeing the Rams at Vikings in a big game in November just doesn't seem right. Get used to it. I think we will see both of these teams as tough outs in the playoffs come January.

If Case Keenum can continue to put up good numbers, like he did against the Redskins, they can beat anybody. The Rams are a nice challenge this week.


8: (Up 4 Spots): USA TODAY Sports

In a season with so much league-wide adversity, the return of QB Teddy Bridgewater is easily one of the most uplifting stories of the year.


6: (Up 2 Spots): MMQB Staff – Sports Illustrated

Last Week’s Rank: 8

Points in MMQB Power Poll: 411

Highest-Place Vote: Third

Lowest-Place Vote: Seventh (5)

Last Week’s Result: Win at Washington, 38-30

Week 11 Opponent: vs. L.A. Rams


6 (Up 1 Spot): Mark Maske – Washington Post

Teddy Bridgewater is back, but Case Keenum continues to excel at QB. There’s no immediate need to make a change. Bridgewater’s comeback is to be admired and his future still could be great. But for now, he should be the fallback plan in case Keenum begins to struggle.


5: (Up 1 Spot) Chris Simms – Bleacher Report

Last Week's Ranking: 6

Can we recognize the Vikings as a legit title contender now? More importantly, can we stop talking about replacing Case Keenum with Teddy Bridgewater?

Keenum is having a better year than Bridgewater ever did. Minnesota has the ninth-ranked offense in football (363.8 yards per game) largely because of him.

Minnesota is for real. The defense didn't play great against the Redskins, but it's one of the five best in the NFL. Latavius Murray is running the ball well. With Keenum, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen adding punch to the passing attack, the Vikings are dangerous and a legit Super Bowl contender.


7: (Up 2 Spots) Manish Mehta New York Daily News

What was cooler? Teddy Bridgewater shedding tears after his long road back from a grievous knee injury or Case Keenum throwing four touchdowns? Both are terrific stories for a team that has won five in a row.


5: (Same Spot) Mike Florio – Pro Football Talk

The movie is getting good, but longstanding Vikings fans know how it will end.