EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings have two games to play.
Minnesota is now 7-6-1 after defeating the Miami Dolphins during Week 15.
If the season ended this week, Minnesota would earn the second NFC Wild Card spot for a playoff berth.
The Vikings are a half of a game behind the Seattle Seahawks (8-6) for the first NFC Wild Card Spot. The two teams that Vikings fans will have to keep an eye on this week are the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams are (7-7) and sit in the hunt behind the Vikings.
Minnesota is back on the road this week and will take on the Detroit Lions (5-9) at noon (CT) Sunday.
Detroit is coming off of a 14-13 loss in Buffalo where the team did not score in the second half.
Experts from across the internet updated their power rankings lists, heading into the Vikings road matchup.
See where experts ranked the Vikings this week:
Last Week’s Rank: 13 – ESPN.com
Biggest breakthrough: The running game. Mike Zimmer said it best: When Dalvin Cook has the ball in his hands, good things typically happen for the Vikings' offense. After weeks of struggling to generate a potent rushing attack, Minnesota keyed in on the 31st-ranked run defense and ran circles around Miami, notching season highs in attempts (40), yards (220) and rushing touchdowns (three). The way Cook affected the game helped set up a potent play-action attack for Kirk Cousins and stymied the issues that were causing the Vikings to fall short in three recent losses. – Courtney Cronin
Last Week’s Rank: 16 – YAHOO! Sports, Frank Schwab
We’ll see if the Vikings keep playing this well on offense after firing coordinator John DeFilippo or if Sunday was one of those one-game bounces. But if the Vikings play a few more games on offense like Sunday, that has to reflect poorly on DeFilippo. Everyone seems to love him but he has no track record of success as a coordinator. If the shine is off of him, that makes a fairly thin group of head-coaching candidates even thinner (and there are going to be a lot of openings).
Last Week’s Rank: 13 - Bleacher Report Staff
On Sunday, it was put up or shut up for the Minnesota Vikings. After losing back-to-back road games to the Patriots and Seahawks, a third straight defeat at the hands of the Miami Dolphins would drop the Vikings below .500 and potentially out of the playoff picture.
However, for once, the Vikings actually looked the part of the Super Bowl contender they were painted as entering the season.
The Vikings throttled a Miami team coming off an upset of the New England Patriots, propelled to a 24-point win by a ground game that gouged the Dolphins for 220 yards and three touchdowns. The Vikings also limited the Dolphins to a paltry 193 yards of total offense and 37 net passing yards while piling up nine sacks and surrendering only two third-down conversions in 12 attempts.
Much of Minnesota's problems this season have been the result of a one-dimensional offense that couldn't run the ball, and in that regard, Sunday's success is a welcome sight.
However, Minnesota is still very much in must-win mode, with a trip to Detroit and a home tilt with the NFC North champion Bears remaining on the slate.
Last Week’s Rank: 15 – Sporting News, Vinnie Iyer
The Vikings went to Dalvin Cook-ing with gas under new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, and it opened things up nicely for a scoring output that's more in line with their talent. Getting off to fast starts and big leads is nice for the defense, too.
Last Week’s Rank: 14 – Elliot Harrison, NFL.com
Task: Handled. The most lovely factoid emanating from the Vikes' 41-17 win over the Dolphins? Dalvin Cook finally receiving some semblance of a workload. Minnesota's dynamic RB1 has been anything but this season, but that's due more to a lack of opportunity than anything else. It's hard to sell Honda Civics if your dealership doesn't provide you any Civics to sell. Cook took his 19 carries and spun them into 136 rushing yards and two scores. Throw in 68 from his caddy, Latavius Murray, and Minnesota controlled the clock for over 33 minutes. At 7-6-1, the Vikings own the inside track to the NFC's sixth seed, with both the Packers and Panthers falling.
Where did this Dalvin Cook kid come from? Wait, what? He's been on the team for two years? Did anyone notify ousted OC John DeFilippo?
Last Week’s Rank: 11 – Sports Illustrated, MMQB Staff
Last Week’s rank: 11
Points in poll: 132
Highest-place vote: Ninth (4)
Lowest-place vote: 15th (2)
Last week: Win vs. Miami, 41-17
Next week: at Detroit
Last Week’s Rank: 15 – Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk
The planets don’t line up often for the Vikings, but when they do it’s memorable.
Last Week’s Rank: 21 – Ryan Van Bibber, SB Nation
It’s really hard to get excited about those last three seeds in the NFC. The Cowboys and Seahawks each lost a head-scratcher this week. The Vikings, meanwhile, looked a lot more like we all thought they would when we were going through the useless exercise of making preseason predictions. Will that hold, though? They get the Lions this week, so another practice game like that would at least be a good chance to roll up some reps before January.
Last Week’s Rank: 14 – Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
The change in offensive coordinators paid off against Miami as they scored 41 points. They control their destiny to a playoff spot and should get there.