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NFL Power Rankings: Vikings Gain Ground After Upsetting 49ers

What do Jordan Addison, Justin Jefferson and Hall of Famer Randy Moss have in common?

Aside from the obvious answer of them being wide receivers who have suited up for the Vikings in their careers, the trio were all drafted by Minnesota in the first round – between picks 21-23. Not just that, but all three receivers had dazzling Monday Night Football debuts their rookie seasons.

Moss recorded five catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-24 victory at Green Bay in 1998. In 2020, Jefferson hauled in eight receptions for 135 yards in a 19-13 win at Chicago. On Monday against San Francisco, it was Addison's turn.

The speedy receiver joined Moss and Jefferson as the only Vikings rookies to have 100 or more receiving yards on MNF. Addison finished the night with a career-high 123 yards on seven catches and a pair of touchdowns, both in the first half.

The latter score came on a play that rivaled the Minneapolis Miracle, as Addison ripped the ball away from 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward and ran untouched for a 60-yard touchdown in the final seconds of the half.

The Vikings went on to stun the 49ers 22-17 and earn their first home victory in 2023. Minnesota also avoided going 0-4 at home to start the season for the first time in franchise history.

Addison's two-score night gives him six touchdowns in just seven games, trailing only Miami's Tyreek Hill (seven) for the league lead. In the process, Addison tied Moss for the most receiving touchdowns by a rookie receiver in the first seven games of a season in franchise history.

It wasn't just Addison who propelled the Vikings to their third win in the past four games. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was near perfect, his offensive line was even better, and safety Camryn Bynum sealed the victory on defense with two fourth-quarter interceptions.

Minnesota's upset gave the team a big boost in this week's Power Rankings, with the highest jump being 10 spots. Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 8:

No. 20 (up 5 spots): Eric Edholm,

The wild goal-line sequence in the third quarter that ended in a Minnesota field goal made me think the Vikings were going to blow the game. That decision felt flawed at the time, and the 49ers came right back and scored. But I give [Head Coach] Kevin O'Connell credit for his game plan on the whole (which limited possessions) and his trust in the defense (which made big stops in crunch time). KOC also called a terrific game for Kirk Cousins. To his own credit, Cousins made a ton of terrific throws under fire, enjoying one of his best outings in recent memory. Jordan Addison missed a chunk of the game to injury, but the rookie wideout was absolutely tremendous, especially after losing that early pass on the interception. We're not quite back in 2022 mode, but this team is suddenly dangerous again.

No. 19 (up 7 spots): Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

[The Vikings] won two straight games to right things and maybe hold off any potential fire sale. Kirk Cousins was outstanding against the 49ers.

No. 16 (up 10 spots): Josh Kendall, The Athletic

Who designs the Vikings turnover celebrations?

Whoever it is should get a raise. Minnesota forced three turnovers Monday night against the 49ers but got to do four celebrations because one was called back when [quarterback] Brock Purdy was ruled down by contact. On the first, the Vikings defenders did a limbo line using 198-pound cornerback Akayleb Evans as the limbo pole. On the second, the defenders all sat in a circle in the end zone and played duck, duck, goose [/gray duck]. On the third one, Camryn Bynum and teammates did the worm in the end zone. On the fourth, Bynum and friends celebrated finishing off the upset.

No. 21 (up 4 spots): NFL Staff, Bleacher Report

The Vikings went into Monday night as a two-win team whose only victories had come against the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers.

There was more talk about which veterans (including quarterback Kirk Cousins) could be traded than any notion of the Vikes getting back into the race in the NFC North.

That has all shifted now. After downing the favored 49ers, the Vikings are suddenly a team that has won three of four after an 0-3 start. A team that didn't allow a single sack on 45 Cousins dropbacks against one of the league's best defenses. A team that lit up said defense for 452 yards.

Without superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson, too.

Rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison exploded against the 49ers, catching seven passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns while doing his best Jefferson impression. Cousins threw for 378 yards and those two scores. And the Minnesota defense (specifically safety Camryn Bynum) forced a pair of late turnovers that sealed the deal.

The Vikings still have concerns – the run game managed just 74 yards on 21 carries. But with just one game against a team with a winning record over the next five weeks and both meetings with the NFC North-leading Lions still on the schedule, Minnesota has a pulse again.

It looks like that fire sale will have to wait.

No. 18 (up 7 spots): Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

The Vikings are operating the same kind of passing game with Kirk Cousins but minus Justin Jefferson. It's working better to win games with the running game, replacement receivers and defense doing an improved job.

No. 19 (up 3 spots): Nate Davis, USA Today Sports

Quarterback Kirk Cousins' third career Monday night win (in 13 attempts) – plus safety Camryn Bynum's heroics (2 INTs) and an airtight offensive line – bring an unexpected victory that suddenly has Minnesota a half-game out of a [Wild Card] spot after a 1-4 start.

No. 15 (up 7 spots): Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports

That was Kirk Cousins' masterpiece. It will be forgotten the first time Cousins has a bad game because everyone likes dunking on Cousins, bringing up his poor prime-time record and acting like he has never had a good game in the NFL. But he threw for 378 yards to save the Vikings season against a 49ers defense that might be the NFL's toughest, and did it all without Justin Jefferson.