A new season brings a new set of NFL power rankings.
Heading into Week 18 last season, most outlets placed Minnesota at either 21 or 22. This year, there's more optimism in the rankings before Sunday's divisional matchup against Green Bay.
Here's a look at where the Vikings landed heading into Week 1 and their first game with Kevin O'Connell as head coach:
No. 20: Dan Hanzus – NFL.com
Will this defense get enough stops? We don't worry about the offense. Kirk Cousins will do his Kirk Cousins thing (streaky production that lands with around 35 touchdowns, 4,000 yards and a 100 passer rating), and the power trio of Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook stacks up against any Big Three in the sport. We like the defensive front led by Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith, too, but the cornerback group is worrisome. Two rookies— Andrew Booth, Jr., and Akayleb Evans — are in line for significant roles in Minnesota's new scheme, while Chandon Sullivan joined as a free-agent acquisition. A Week 1 assignment against [four-time NFL] MVP Aaron Rodgers will serve as an immediate gut check.
No. 18: NFL Staff – Bleacher Report
There's a renewed sense of optimism in Minnesota this season, and at least one of our analysts is buying into it.
"The Vikings have arguably the best wide receiver in the league in Justin Jefferson," Gary Davenport wrote. "Dalvin Cook is one of the league's most explosive running backs. Cousins was ninth in the league in passing yards last year, ninth in touchdown passes, seventh in touchdown percentage and fourth in passer rating.
"And the Minnesota defense has the potential to be better than most are giving them credit for. If there's a team in the NFC North with a realistic shot of de-throning the Packers in 2022, it has to be the Vikings. This could be one of the surprise success stories of 2022.
No. 14: Vinnie Iyer – Sporting News
The Vikings have the best buzz among teams with rookie head coaches. Kevin O'Connell was the right hire to maximize an attack with Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook as the featured players. The defense also has some reinforcements and will be more supportive and complementary post Mike Zimmer.
View the best photos captured during Vikings 2022 training camp and preseason games.
No. 12: Pete Prisco – CBS Sports
O'Connell has a different style from Mike Zimmer, which players say is refreshing. The defense has to be better than a year ago because the offense should be explosive.
No. 20: MMQB Staff – Sports Illustrated
The Vikings hovered between average and a-little-better-than-average through the entirety of Mike Zimmer's tenure, and they'll probably be in the same spot in Year 1 under Kevin O'Connell.
No. 19: Peter King – Pro Football Talk
The [new] head coach is a sunny offensive guy, Kevin O'Connell, with a veteran running the defense, Ed Donatell. He's run a 3-4 recently, but promises to meld three- and four-man fronts in Minnesota. Either way, two defensive imports — end Harrison Phillips (Buffalo) and OLB Za'Darius Smith (Green Bay) — should play big roles if the Donatell system is going to get the Vikings back to playing quality defense.
No. 17: Nate Davis – USA TODAY Sports
Justin Jefferson is the only player in the league with at least 3,000 receiving yards since 2020. Might he push 5,000 over three campaigns as a centerpiece in new coach Kevin O'Connell's pass-oriented attack?
No. 19: Frank Schwab – Yahoo! Sports
Kirk Cousins is set up well for a big season under new coach Kevin O'Connell. But it's funny: No matter how good Cousins is, your opinion on him won't change unless Minnesota somehow wins a Super Bowl.