Last season, the Vikings benefited from fortuitous bounces and capitalized on their opportunities when it was required to help themselves win an NFL-record 11 one-score games.
Those same bounces have seemed to slip Minnesota's grasp so far in 2023. An array of turnovers hurt the Vikings in their first two games against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. On Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, it was a pair of unlucky deflections off the hands of Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans and tight end T.J. Hockenson that landed into the hands of the Chargers, who escaped with a 28-24 victory.
Minnesota (0-3) has lost all three games by a one-score margin this season, and fell back in this week's Power Rankings, ranging from 23 to 29. The Vikings will hit the road this week for another chance to secure their first victory of 2023 against the Carolina Panthers (0-3).
Here's a look at where the Vikings rank going into Week 4:
No. 26 (down 4 spots): Eric Edholm, NFL.com
Is the season over? No, but it's getting late early. Brian Flores' defense had acquitted itself fairly respectably in the first two games, even if the limitations were obvious. On Sunday, they were diced up by Justin Herbert and Co., unable to pressure him enough or cover on the back end. The Chargers threw 48 passes – 41 were completed, and Vikings DBs batted away only three throws. Actually, Akayleb Evans could have made it four, but his deflected pass went right to Joshua Palmer for a TD. That was bad luck, but the reality of the situation is that the defense has little chance to hang with elite offenses.
No. 23 (down 2 spots): NFL Staff, Bleacher Report
On Sunday, Kirk Cousins became the fifth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 325 [or more] yards and [at least] two scores in each of his first three starts in a season, per the NFL's communications department.
Just about everything that could go wrong has for the Vikings. Their minus-7 turnover differential is tied for the worst in the league. The Vikings are once again a dumpster fire defensively, allowing the seventh-most yards and points per game after ranking 31st in total defense last season.
No. 29 (down 3 spots): Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
At 0-3, their season is all but done. Climbing out of that hole won't be easy, and the defense probably won't make it possible.
No. 29 (down 2 spots): Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
The Vikings are not having the unsustainable fourth-quarter success of last season and their defense is playing a huge part in the regression below the mean. The reality should be sinking in, despite the talent around Kirk Cousins, they're not returning to the playoffs.
No. 24 (no change): Nate Davis, USA TODAY Sports
Wide receiver Justin Jefferson might be your early Offensive Player of the Year, on pace for nearly 2,600 receiving yards. Unless it's quarterback Kirk Cousins (league-high 96 completions, 1,075 yards and nine TDs).
No. 24 (down 1 spot): Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports
Let's run this stat back: The Vikings were 11-0 in one-score games last season, an NFL record, and this season they're 0-3. It seems like the Vikings are by far the best of the winless teams, but it's tough to come back from 0-3. Only six teams in the Super Bowl era started 0-3 and made the playoffs. Since 2002, only one of 99 teams (the 2018 Texans) that started 0-3 made the postseason, via FOX 9 in Minnesota. The Vikings have lost three games by only 13 combined points and are in a world of trouble.