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NFL Power Rankings: Vikings Slide Slightly After 1-3 Start

The Vikings suffered another close loss Sunday — their third by seven or fewer points — to drop to 1-3.

Minnesota wraps its three-game homestand Sunday against Detroit (0-4). Kickoff is set for noon (CT).

Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 5:

No. 17 (down 1 spot): Dan Hanzus – NFL.com

It was so easy for Kirk Cousins and Co. in the first three weeks. On Sunday, that trend seemed destined to continue when the Vikings marched straight down the field for a touchdown in their opening drive against the Browns. Then the script flipped. Minnesota had 11 possessions from that point onward and never scored again in a disappointing 14-7 loss at U.S. Bank Stadium. Cousins was knocked out of his groove by a consistent Cleveland pass rush, and Dalvin Cook spent more time on the sidelines with that ominous ankle issue. The Vikings still feel like they have the DNA of a playoff team, but a 1-3 start puts them in a difficult position. They won't find the postseason if they can't find consistency.

No. 23 (down 1 spot): Frank Schwab – Yahoo! Sports

The moments after a 14-7 loss, which dropped Minnesota to 1-3, probably wasn't the best time to put a positive spin on things. "I've been doing this (for) 27 years," Vikings [Head Coach] Mike Zimmer said, via the Pioneer Press. "I know good teams and I know bad teams, and I know that this team has a chance to be pretty darn good." The Vikings have had three very close losses, so maybe Zimmer isn't that far off, but fans want to see some better bottom-line results.

No. 23 (down 5 spots): Pete Prisco – CBS Sports

That explosive offense took a break against the Browns as Kirk Cousins struggled after the first quarter. At 1-3, the first month hasn't been kind to this group.

No. 24 (down 3 spots): NFL Staff – Bleacher Report

After losing close games in the first two weeks by a combined four points, the Minnesota Vikings appeared to have figured something out after racking up 23 unanswered points in last week's win over the Seahawks. That held true on the opening drive of Sunday's game when they drove the length of the field with ease and punched it in the end zone.

However, that touchdown would be the only points the Vikings scored against the visiting Browns. After four games, they find themselves in a 1-3 hole and scrambling to keep the season from spiraling out of control.

Head Coach Mike Zimmer told reporters he's not about to hit any panic buttons.

Of course, some of that lack of panic may be because Minnesota closes out a three-game homestand next week against the winless Lions.

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

No. 21 (down 5 spots): Jenny Vrentas – Sports Illustrated

Mike Zimmer asserted after Minnesota's third loss in four games that this is a good football team. They've looked like it at times, like in their win against Seattle and the game they should have won in Arizona. But they didn't look much like it against the Browns.

No. 24 (down 1 spot): Vinnie Iyer – Sporting News

The Vikings are having more trouble closing out close games with Mike Zimmer. Just as their defense looked better, their balanced offense went into the tank. They might already be running out of time to put it all together.

No. 17 (up 1 spot): Nate Davis – USA TODAY Sports

Just as the defense shows some signs of life, Kirk Cousins and Co. go dark. Minnesota continues to be a team firing on some cylinders.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Oct. 12, 2021.

No. 22 (down 2 spots): Courtney Cronin – ESPN.com

Note: ESPN looked at an eye-opening surprise from each team. ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin went with the uneven play of cornerback Bashuad Breeland.

Why it's a surprise: Minnesota signed Breeland to shore up the secondary and put a player with experience and good coverage skills (ranked 18th by Pro Football Focus in 2020) opposite Patrick Peterson at outside corner. Through four games, Breeland's play has been a disaster. He has been targeted 23 times and allowed 20 receptions for 281 yards (14.1 yards per reception), has given up four touchdowns and is allowing a near-perfect passer rating (157.2).

No. 18 (same spot): Mike Florio – Pro Football Talk

You can't win if you can't score more than seven points. #analytics.

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