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NFL Power Rankings: Sub-.500 Vikings Drop in Polls

The Vikings are back below .500 with a. 3-4 record following Sunday night's sour loss to the Cowboys.

Minnesota is back in action Sunday at Baltimore, which is 5-2 and coming off a bye. Kickoff is at noon (CT).

Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 9:

No. 19 (down 4 spots): Dan Hanzus –

The prime-time stage was set up for the Vikings on Sunday night. Dak Prescott was inactive, and when Kirk Cousins led Minnesota on an immediate touchdown drive, it looked like the start of a four-hour Halloween party at U.S. Bank Stadium. But the Dallas defense took control after that, and the Vikings defense wilted against Cooper Rush in the final minutes. I'll repeat: The Vikings defense wilted against Cooper Rush in the final minutes. Mike Zimmer's team had a chance to make a statement and instead came off as an also-ran exposed.

No. 19 (down 1 spot): Frank Schwab – Yahoo! Sports

Mike Zimmer admitted to the mistake of calling consecutive timeouts, which cost the Vikings a 5-yard penalty and helped Dallas convert a third-and-11 on the next play. A play after that, the Cowboys scored the game-winning touchdown. That will be yet another piece of evidence for frustrated Vikings fans who want a coaching change.

No. 16 (down 2 spots): Pete Prisco – CBS Sports

The offense wasn't good against the Cowboys. They just seemed too predictable. That has to change.

No. 23 (down 1 spot): NFL Staff – Bleacher Report

This was the one. This was the game the Minnesota Vikings had to have. Beat a Dallas Cowboys team that was short quarterback Dak Prescott, and the Vikings would be 4-3 and in the thick of the NFC Wild Card picture. Lose, and it's off to the also-ran pile again.

Giving up 325 passing yards to a 27-year-old backup making his first career start is bad enough. But Cooper Rush just outplayed Kirk Cousins, and it wasn't especially close. Minnesota's veteran quarterback completed just 23 of 35 passes for 184 yards and a single first-quarter touchdown pass.

After the Cowboys came back to score the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left, a visibly frustrated Adam Thielen bemoaned Minnesota's inability to close games out.

"Every game we just hang around, hang around, hang around, let the team hang around, instead of just putting our foot on the gas and going," Thielen told reporters.

It was the fourth time this season the Vikings lost a one-score game. And with a brutal stretch of schedule underway that features trips to Baltimore and Los Angeles to face the Chargers and a visit from the Packers, it was a defeat that may well signify the beginning of the end for the 2021 Vikings…

And quite possibly Head Coach Mike Zimmer as well.

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

No. 17 (down 2 spots): Conor Orr – Sports Illustrated

With the Vikings, you can't get bogged down by the week-to-week results. They're just going to swing between good games and bad, somehow finding their way back to No. 17. Of course they lost to Cooper Rush on a Sunday night. Now watch them somehow take two out of three against the Ravens, Chargers and Packers. (O.K. maybe one out of three.)

No. 19 (down 3 spots): Vinnie Iyer – Sporting News

The Vikings lost yet another close one-possession game late in the fourth quarter by failing to take advantage of not facing Prescott at home on Sunday night. They have a lot of trouble meshing their offense and defense for optimum effect under Mike Zimmer. They would be a huge disappointment as a non-playoff team.

No. 17 (down 3 spots): Nate Davis – USA TODAY Sports

They keep getting close ... but aren't accruing sufficient cigars, even with all four losses by seven or fewer points. Matters won't get easier with DE Danielle Hunter down for the count with a torn pectoral muscle.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.

No. 19 (down 2 spots): Courtney Cronin –

Note: ESPN looked the biggest Achilles' heel for each team. ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin went with Minnesota's entire offense.

A seven-game sample size reveals the Vikings' offense is not cut out for the modern NFL. Minnesota has routinely come out of the gates swinging and scoring on its first possession, but the offense has disappeared after that to the tune of no second-half touchdowns in five of seven games. In a loss to Dallas, the game plan turned quarterback Kirk Cousins into a predictable checkdown machine whose average depth of target was 4.5 yards and totaled a measly 184 yards passing. This unit went from explosive to dull and conservative in a year's time and has evolved into Minnesota's chief downfall this season.

No. 17 (down 3 spots): Mike Florio – Pro Football Talk

They don't do low expectations very well.