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NFL Power Rankings: Vikings Dip Before Season Finale

The Vikings saw their playoff hopes end with a loss on Christmas Day to the Saints.

Minnesota will now head to Detroit for the 2020 season finale.

The Vikings are 6-9 and the Lions are 5-10. Kickoff from Ford Field is at noon (CT).

Here's a look at where the Vikings rank before Week 17:

No. 23 (down 3 spots): Dan Hanzus –

A lost season hit its nadir in a spotlight game on Christmas Day. The Vikings surrendered 52 points [to the Saints] and six touchdowns to Alvin Kamara in a blowout loss that officially eliminated Minnesota from postseason contention. After the game, Mike Zimmer chose not to mince words: "Yeah, this is a bad defense," Zimmer said. "Worst one I've ever had." The 52 points were the most allowed by the Vikings since 1963, while the 583 total yards by the Saints represented the most yielded to any opponent in the history of the franchise. You can probably guess where the Vikes will be putting their focus this offseason.

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

No. 17 (down 1 spot): Frank Schwab – Yahoo! Sports

The Vikings defense should be embarrassed by what happened at New Orleans. The 583 yards allowed is a franchise record, and the 52 points allowed is the most by a Vikings defense since 1963. There have been many injuries on defense but that's still awful. Presumably Mike Zimmer will be back for 2021, but depending on what happens around the rest of the league, he might be the coach on the hottest seat entering next season.

No. 20 (down 1 spot): Pete Prisco – CBS Sports

The defense is putrid, which has to anger Mike Zimmer, who made his bones as a defensive coach. That showing at New Orleans was embarrassing.

No. 23 (down 2 spots): NFL Staff – Bleacher Report

The Minnesota Vikings came into Week 16 needing a cosmic confluence of events to make the playoffs — the first of which was an upset win over the New Orleans Saints on Christmas.

Um, no.

After the Saints drilled the Vikings in New Orleans, the only thing upset was Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer after Minnesota allowed its most points in a game since 1963 and surrendered a franchise-record 583 yards.

Granted, that Minnesota defense was short-handed and then some Friday night — especially at linebacker. But the Vikings have had issues on that side of the ball most of the season. With Danielle Hunter on the shelf, Minnesota's pass rush has evaporated. The secondary has been roasted with regularity.

It's been a miserable season in the Twin Cities — one that began with Super Bowl aspirations but will end with a meaningless game against the Lions.

And it's fair to wonder what kind of changes could be coming after this faceplant.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.

No. 19 (down 2 spots): Gary Gramling (The MMQB) – Sports Illustrated

After losing all their cornerbacks it was going to be a trying year for this defense, but losing Danielle Hunter for the season, Anthony Barr for all but two games and Eric Kendricks for the past month is the kind of thing that results in opponents dropping 52 on you on Christmas night.

No. 18 (down 1 spot): Vinnie Iyer – Sporting News

The Vikings have been trying to keep their young and injury-riddled defense together with duct tape and zone coverage but it's caught up to them against the run, too. Kirk Cousins and the offense did as much as they could under the circumstances.

No. 17 (up 1 spot): Courtney Cronin –

Note: ESPN looked at a New Year's resolution for each team. ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin wants the Vikings to commit to using their star receivers.

The Vikings can absolutely be a run-first team if they want to continue to carry that philosophy into 2021. It'd probably help if they were less predictable, like running less on second down, and one way to execute that is by prioritizing an uptick in usage for Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Minnesota has two star wideouts who should each be nearing double-digit targets every game and relied on in critical situations, such as two-minute drives and helping the team get back into contention when playing from behind.

No. 18 (down 2 spots): Mike Florio – Pro Football Talk

"Just good enough" will have to be good enough in 2021, 2022 and possibly beyond.