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NFL Power Rankings: Another Win Nudges Vikings Mostly Up

The Vikings are 6-6 and have reached the .500 mark for the first time this season. Minnesota won its second straight game Sunday (and fifth in sixth tries), but it wasn't pretty against Jacksonville.

Minnesota now heads to Tampa Bay for a key NFC matchup between two teams that currently hold playoff spots. The Buccaneers are 7-5 and coming off a bye in Week 13.

Here's a look at where the Vikings rank before Week 14:

No. 16 (same spot): Dan Hanzus –

It wasn't pretty, but Sunday's 27-24 overtime win over the Jaguars slid the Vikings into the seventh and final NFC playoff spot with four weeks to play. Not bad for a team that was left for dead at 1-5 in October. The Vikes did a nice job fattening up on the soft portion of their schedule, but their level of play will have to improve significantly ahead of Sunday's matchup against a rested Buccaneers team. They'll also need more of the same from Justin Jefferson, who on Sunday became the fifth rookie [during the Super Bowl era] to reach 1,000 yards receiving in his first 12 games. Jefferson's meteoric rise to star status gives the Vikings a playmaker core that rivals that of any team in football.

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

No. 15 (up 1 spot): Frank Schwab – Yahoo! Sports

Anquan Boldin had 1,377 yards as a rookie, an NFL record. Justin Jefferson is on pace for 1,335 yards, via the Star Tribune. Considering that pace counts the first two games in which Jefferson barely played — seriously, it's still impossible to believe the Vikings staff preferred Bisi Johnson those first two games — he has a shot at setting a record over the last four games.

No. 18 (same spot): Pete Prisco – CBS Sports

It wasn't pretty against the Jaguars, but a win is a win. They are still alive in the playoff chase.

No. 19 (down 3 spots): NFL Staff – Bleacher Report

When the Minnesota Vikings lost five of their first six games, any hopes they had of making the playoffs appeared to vanish.

However, the Vikings are 5-1 since then, and Sunday's overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (coupled with Arizona's loss) moved them into the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC.

Although the Vikings won Sunday, it was the second week in a row that they had to come back against a lesser opponent. After the game, Head Coach Mike Zimmer wasn't pleased about that fact.

No. 19 (down 4 spots): Conor Orr (The MMQB) – Sports Illustrated

Winners of five of their last six games, this matchup against Tampa Bay feels monumental. Can Kirk Cousins continue to let it rip against one of the most talented defenses in football?

No. 15 (up 2 spots): Vinnie Iyer – Sporting News

The Vikings don't get any style points for another crazy home escape as heavy favorites. Their offense needs to clean up mistakes because the defensive issues leave them little margin for error.

No. 17 (up 1 spot): Courtney Cronin –

Note: ESPN's pollsters looked at the person with the most at stake in the final four games. Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin went with quarterback Kirk Cousins.

This might seem like a weird answer given that Cousins' contract absolutely makes him the starter in 2021. Cousins had the best passer rating [124.3] in November and orchestrated game-winning drives in Weeks 12 and 13 to keep the Vikings in the playoff hunt. Coming off their bye at 1-5 after Cousins threw 10 interceptions, the Vikings decided to run the offense through Dalvin Cook. That strategy got them to .500, but Cook is more banged up now than he was a month ago. Over the next four weeks, Cousins has an opportunity to prove he can win important games against top NFC talent (Buccaneers, Saints) without having to rely heavily on his running back.

No. 14 (up 1 spot): Mike Florio – Pro Football Talk

The hornheads recently have [found] a horseshoe.