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NFL Power Rankings: Vikings Fall to Bottom Half of League Polls

The Vikings are 5-7 with five games left in the regular season.

Minnesota hosts Pittsburgh on Thursday Night Football, with kickoff at 7:20 p.m. (CT) from U.S. Bank Stadium.

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

No. 19 (down 5 spots): Dan Hanzus –

Some things we'll just never know: Who built Stonehenge? What became of Amelia Earhart? Why did Cameron Dantzler play 11 yards off the receiver? The Vikings latest ridiculous loss could have significant long-term ramifications for the franchise, especially if Minnesota's truly manic season ends with the team one win shy of a playoff berth. The Vikings dug themselves out of a 20-6 hole, only to still find a way to lose to a Lions team that hadn't claimed victory in 364 days. Mike Zimmer's future with the team has never been hazier, and you wonder if more seismic changes are in store once this wildly frustrating season reaches its sure-to-be-absurd conclusion.

No. 22 (down 6 spots): Frank Schwab – Yahoo! Sports

The Vikings are far from dead in the Wild Card race, but that's mostly because the teams outside the top five in the NFC aren't very good. Perhaps the worst-case scenario for angry Vikings fans would be Minnesota getting the No. 7 seed, then ownership feeling like they can't make wholesale changes because teams generally don't do that after a playoff berth.

No. 21 (down 1 spot): Pete Prisco – CBS Sports

That was a terrible loss to the Lions on the road. They face a playoff-like game this week against the Steelers.

No. 21 (down 5 spots): NFL Staff – Bleacher Report

The Minnesota Vikings entered Week 13 with a clear goal: beat the winless Lions, keep the pressure on Washington for the seventh seed in the NFC playoffs and show that they remain a legitimate contender.

Instead, the Vikings handed the Lions their first win of the season on a last-second touchdown pass. In doing so, they dealt a crippling blow to their lagging postseason aspirations.

The Vikings piled up 426 yards of offense, and quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 340 yards and a pair of touchdowns. They held the lead with less than two minutes left and the Lions out of timeouts.

But while the Vikings played relatively well offensively, the same cannot be said for the defense. Facing a Lions team that ranks in the bottom five leaguewide in both yards and points per game, Minnesota allowed 372 yards, 29 points and a 14-play drive that decided the game.

For the team, it was deflating. For Minnesota's fans, it was infuriating. And for the team's playoff chances, it was absolutely debilitating.

No. 23 (down 5 spots): Greg Bishop – Sports Illustrated

The Vikings are one of the NFL's most befuddling teams. Maybe the most befuddling. Over the course of the season, Minnesota narrowly lost to some of the league's top contenders (Arizona, 1 point; Dallas, 4 points; Baltimore, 3 points). The Vikings haven't dropped any of their seven losses by more than 8 total points, and five of those defeats came by four points or fewer. Even then, Minnesota's victories have mostly resulted from similar margins, and their last game — Detroit's first and only win this season — only proved how far the Vikings have to go. With the Steelers, Rams and Packers remaining on the schedule — along with two games against the Bears — they'll have to move forward without wideout Adam Thielen who suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday, adding injury to insult. Star running back Dalvin Cook already missed last week with a shoulder injury, and he's not likely to play this week, either. But, hey, at least Vikings fans can debate whether Justin Jefferson is now the best receiver in all of pro football.

No. 22 (down 3 spots): Vinnie Iyer – Sporting News

The Vikings threw away a game they needed in handing the Lions their first victory in the waning moments. They've gotten ridiculous living and dying by the close game with Kirk Cousins and Mike Zimmer, but will there be changes from that in 2022?

View photos of wide receivers Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn showcasing the team's Primetime Purple uniforms.

No. 21 (down 7 spots): Nate Davis – USA TODAY Sports

Coach Mike Zimmer bemoaned last year's defense, saying it was the worst he'd ever had. He might be singing the same tune after this season.

No. 23 (down 5 spots): Courtney Cronin –

Note: ESPN looked at a player from each team that needs to play well down the stretch. ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin went linebacker Anthony Barr.

A knee and subsequent hamstring injuries have limited the linebacker to playing in just six games this season, during which he has totaled 0.5 sacks and one interception, defended three passes and recorded 28 tackles. That comes on the heels of missing all but 1½ games in 2020 due to a season-ending pectoral tear. The Vikings reworked Barr's contract in the offseason to make him a free agent in 2022 after paying him $9.4 million on a fully guaranteed one-year deal. Barr hasn't seen the field much over the past two seasons to justify another big payday. He'll need a strong showing in Minnesota's final five regular-season games to show he is capable of getting back to his Pro Bowl form.

View photos of Vikings players' custom cleats in honor of the NFL's 2021 My Cause My Cleats initiative that allows players to express their commitment to causes that are important to them.

No. 22 (down 7 spots): Mike Florio – Pro Football Talk

Purple Purgatory quickly is becoming Lavender Hell.