It's officially Week 1 on the NFL season, and that means that the NFL Power Rankings article series on Vikings.com is back.
Each week Vikings.com will continue to track where the Vikings rank out of all 32 teams in the eyes of the experts.
Experts around the NFL have set their lists of where they think each of the NFL teams ranks heading into the 2017 season.
See where the experts placed the Vikings as they prepare to take on the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikes win the unrankable award for this preseason exercise. Are they "10 wins" good? Do they suck? Will Kyle Rudolph attempt a pass farther than 5 yards beyond his center's helmet? Will Stefon Diggs make it back this year? Heck, will he ever play for Minnesota again? Will Laquon Treadwell catch more than one pass from either QB? We've got questions; nobody has answers. Now, that defense still owns the personnel to be top-five in points allowed. Can't wait to see what Danielle Hunter produces this season.
Will this season's Vikings more closely resemble the version that began last season 5-0 or the one that went 3-8 thereafter? Adrian Peterson is gone, and Sam Bradford remains the QB. Whether either of those is a good thing remains to be seen.
Classic team that could go in either direction. If Sam Bradford flourishes in Pat Shurmur's system, if Cook confirms his high first-round talent with an impact year, if the Vikings can build up a strong playoff résumé entering a brutal post-Thanksgiving stretch, and if young defensive stalwarts like Danielle Hunter can continue their ascension, this will be a playoff team. Big ifs, but all certainly possible. One look in the rear-view mirror here. Kudos to GM Rick Spielman for making the tough call last Labor Day weekend and trading a 2017 first-round pick for Bradford. With the short- and long-term uncertainty surrounding Teddy Bridgewater's knee injury (to this day), Spielman gave up what became the 14th pick in 2017 for short- and long-term insurance. Bradford delivered in up-and-down fashion, typical of his career, but there was no passer in this draft putting up numbers like Bradford's in 2016: 71.6 percent accuracy, 20 touchdowns to five interceptions, 99.3 rating. Having a quarterback is why the Vikings will contend.
I still believe the Minnesota Vikings defense is special. It did give up way too many big plays in the preseason, and that's concerning. However, things may have looked worse than they actually are in Week 3, because the 49ers seemed to actually game-plan for Minnesota. This isn't likely a trend that will continue into the regular season.
Offensively, Minnesota should be improved from a year ago. The offensive line is getting better — though it certainly isn't something to brag about yet — and the addition of Dalvin Cook is huge. My question is whether the Vikings can find someone other than Cook to make explosive plays. Stefon Diggs might be that guy, but they need more consistency from him.
The Minnesota offense will be put to the test in Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, who have an underrated secondary, and we know Drew Brees and Co. can score points.
Rookie Dalvin Cook already has found himself at the top of the Vikings' running back depth chart, but he could be in for a long season if the offensive line doesn't improve. The Vikings averaged 3.2 yards per rush last season, worst in the NFL.
The Vikings begin life without Adrian Peterson as nicely as possible with Dalvin Cook leading the backfield. That's a good complement to their defense, but their limited passing pop is bound to keep holding them back.
One of the better matchups of Week 1 is this defense against the Saints' offense. I like the Vikings' chances of doing fairly well there.
No disastrous injuries through the end of the preseason, so Mike Zimmer's crew is in better shape than it was at this point last year. Verdict is still out on the reshuffled offensive line.