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NFL Power Rankings: Vikings Momentum Halted by Loss at Denver

There are a number of different ways to analyze how teams win and lose in sports.

A quick and easy determination can be made by glancing at the scoring breakdown by each quarter or half. Other stats deeper within the box score — such as field goal percentage, total yards or hits — can also be explored.

But more often than not, there's a figure that is synonymous across sports that serves as the difference maker between a critical win and a crushing loss: turnovers.

The Vikings 2023 season was initially thrown off course by injuries to key players and costly mistakes. Although Minnesota steered its way back from a 1-4 start to playoff contention with five straight wins and six in a seven-game span, turnovers once again were a focal point during the Vikings 21-20 loss to Denver on Sunday Night Football.

Minnesota turned the ball over three times — two lost fumbles out of four total on the evening and a fourth-quarter interception — which Denver used to rally from a 17-9 deficit after three quarters. The Broncos capped off the comeback with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Courtland Sutton with just over a minute remaining.

The loss dropped the Vikings to 6-5 and caused Minnesota to fall slightly back in the majority of this week's Power Rankings. Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 12:

No. 14 (up 1 spot): Eric Edholm,

[The Vikings] had an opportunity to steal one in Denver, but they could only manage three points over their final four possessions, turning it over three times (INT, fumble, downs) in the final 18 minutes of the game. Joshua Dobbs had some moments early, and the run-game duo of Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler was potent, but Mattison and Dobbs combined for three turnovers. Likewise, the defense took and gave, holding Denver to five field goals before allowing the game-winning TD drive in the final minutes. [Head Coach] Kevin O'Connell has done a tremendous job with this team, and the Vikings remain firmly in the playoff race for now, but this was one that got away. They would have been 5-1 on the road had they pulled it off Sunday night.

No. 13 (no change): Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

[The Vikings] blew a lead to the Broncos on Sunday night because they turned the ball over three times. The defense continues to be special, but they need Justin Jefferson back on offense.

No. 14 (down 1 spot): Josh Kendall, The Athletic

Without Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson, the Vikings are 4-1, and that one loss came Sunday on a late score by the Broncos. Minnesota is within two games of division leader Detroit and still gets to play the Lions twice. We're not suggesting the Vikings are that level of good, but this team continues to surprise.

No. 14 (up 1 spot): NFL Staff, Bleacher Report

Over the past few weeks, the story of Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs has captivated the NFL. Just a few days after arriving in the Twin Cities, Dobbs led the Vikings to a win over the Atlanta Falcons. The following week, he and the Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints.

However, Sunday night in Denver, Dobbs' bid for a third straight win came up short. But even Denver Head Coach Sean Payton acknowledged to reporters that he was impressed by what he saw from the journeyman backup.

"Man, he's a lot slippier than I ever (realized) ... he was tough to get down," Payton said. "And he's taller. I turned to [Offensive Coordinator Joe] Lombardi in pregame and said, 'Gosh, I don't remember Dobbs being 6-foot-3.' And I didn't realize how well he can move in the pocket. And we all kind of lived it in that last 2-minute drive. It was just one escape after the other and finally we got off the field."

"Dobbs' feel-good story doesn't end simply because the Vikings lost to the Broncos on Sunday Night Football," [Bleacher Report NFL analyst Brent] Sobleski said. "The quarterback still had his squad in a position to win late in the fourth quarter. But Minnesota's defense finally broke and allowed a touchdown as the 2-minute warning neared. Granted, Dobbs committed two turnovers, which led to six points in a one-point loss. However, the fumble came courtesy of what should have been deemed an illegal hit and his arm was hit from the backside to tip the ball for an interception."

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 7, 2024.

No. 14 (down 2 spots): Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

The Vikings played well all around in Denver but got back to their offensive turnover woes from earlier in the season with Josh Dobbs. Red zone also needs to get better, fast, for them to push toward the playoffs again.

No. 18 (down 2 spots): Nate Davis, USA Today Sports

Joshua Dobbs' singularly circuitous season continues with the quarterback becoming the first in NFL history to have both a TD pass and run in his first three games with a team.

No. 14 (down 1 spot): Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports

The Vikings gave up the late drive to the Broncos and lost, but the play of their defense was still impressive. The Vikings held the Broncos out of the end zone until the final two minutes. Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores, who does a great job sending pressure, has been a really good hire.