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NFL Power Rankings: Bye Week Yields Little Movement

The Vikings (5-1) rested last weekend while 28 other teams battled across the NFL.

How did the bye week affect the NFC North leaders in the eyes of the experts?

Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 8:

No. 7 (down 3 spots): Dan Hanzus –

The quiet of a Vikings bye week feels like a good time to examine the historic start to Justin Jefferson's career. The third-year wideout had yet another 100-yard effort in Week 6's win over the Dolphins, and will enter Week 8 averaging the most yards per game for a wide receiver in NFL history. Jefferson averages 94.1 yards per game, which puts him ahead of Julio Jones (91.2) and Calvin Johnson (86.1). Jefferson also has the third-most 100-yard games [18] through three seasons, dating back to at least 1950: Only Randy Moss (19) and Odell Beckham, Jr., (19) are ahead of him. Jefferson, of course, has 11 more games to set that record, too. Pretty heady stuff for a 23-year-old.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Cardinals.

No. 4 (no change): NFL Staff – Bleacher Report

For the first time since 2016, the Minnesota Vikings are 5-1. However, they do have a few causes for concern moving forward, starting with their defense.

Entering Week 7, the Vikings were 26th in the league in total defense. They've done a good job of limiting the damage from all of those yards (12th in scoring defense), but when you consistently allow a lot of yards, the points will eventually follow. The Vikings are also 21st in defensive DVOA at Football Outsiders.

The second issue is Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, whose yards per attempt and air yards per attempt are both substantially lower than they were last year. First-year Head Coach Kevin O'Connell dismissed concerns about his quarterback, though, telling reporters that Cousins is just taking what defenses give him.

"I will say, we've had some shorter targets that have gone for explosive gains with catch-and-runs and guys getting underneath coverages," O'Connell said. "If (opponents) do want to play things deep to short, (Cousins) will keep making great decisions and being really accurate with the ball underneath."

The Vikings have yet to show they can hang with the league's best teams. They suffered a lopsided loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, and their only victory against a team with a winning record was a Week 6 triumph over the Tua Tagovailoa-less Miami Dolphins.

Games at Buffalo in Week 10 and home against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11 should offer an indication as to whether this team is better than the 2016 squad that started 5-1 but finished 8-8.

No. 5 (no change): Vinnie Iyer – Sporting News

The Vikings were the quiet contenders on the bye. They might not seem as impressive as other hot-starting teams, but the offense is rolling as expected with Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook as the principals, and the new-look defense has the ideal kind of reinforcements at every level. Now it also looks like they might run away with the NFC North.

No. 4 (down 1 spot): Pete Prisco – CBS Sports

At 5-1, they have a firm hold on the NFC North as they come off their bye. The defense still needs to play better going forward.

No. 4 (no change): Conor Orr – Sports Illustrated

Coming off the bye, it's breakaway time for the Vikings. With the Packers reeling, the Vikings have incredibly winnable games against the Cardinals and Commanders. One would assume a 7-1 record would be close to uncatchable in the NFC North.

No. 6 (no change): Mike Florio – Pro Football Talk

A couple of winnable games are looming. Can Minnesota keep winning the games it should win?

No. 5 (no change): Nate Davis – USA TODAY Sports

QB Kirk Cousins' 88.7 passer rating is his lowest since becoming a full-time NFL starter. But if he and Minnesota can pick up the offensive efficiency, this team could actually challenge for the NFC's top playoff seed.

No. 6 (down 1 spot): Frank Schwab – Yahoo! Sports

The Vikings had a great week. The Packers loss dropped them to 3-4, and suddenly the Vikings have a 2 1/2 game lead in the NFC North and a win in hand on the Packers. Green Bay plays at Buffalo this week so if the Vikings handle business against the Cardinals at home, they could suddenly find themselves up 3 1/2 games before November.