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NFL Power Rankings: Vikings Hang Steady After Bye Week

The Vikings are rested and ready for the final 11 games of the 2021 season.

Minnesota's playoff push begins at home Sunday night against Dallas. Kickoff is at 7:20 p.m. (CT).

Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 8:

No. 15 (down 1 spot): Dan Hanzus –

On a recent edition of the Around The NFL Podcast, we probed Vikings beat reporter Arif Hasan on the relationship between Mike Zimmer and Kirk Cousins. The tension between the head coach and starting quarterback seems palpable at times, but Hasan asserted that any frustrations with Cousins as a QB (or teammate) are largely negated by his play. The veteran might not ever inspire lengthy monologues about his leadership abilities, but he stacks numbers, year after year. The production will sneak up on you: In 58 games as Minnesota's starter, Cousins has completed over 69 percent of his 1,805 attempts for 104 touchdowns and just 31 interceptions. His passer rating of 103.9 over that span represents the production of a star. Why don't we see him that way?

No. 18 (down 2 spots): Frank Schwab – Yahoo! Sports

The Vikings, who could be 1-5 or 6-0 if a few plays were different, are in an interesting spot this week at home against the Cowboys. That's the Sunday night game. If the Vikings are closer to that "good team that has had some rough close losses" line, then they will upset the Cowboys and could start to make a Wild Card run.

No. 14 (up 1 spot): Pete Prisco – CBS Sports

They evened their record at 3-3 two weeks ago, but now face a proving game of sorts at home against the Cowboys. It's time for Kirk Cousins to show out in a big game.

No. 22 (same spot): NFL Staff – Bleacher Report

You'd be hard-pressed to find many pundits who would call the 2021 Minnesota Vikings a good football team. But after peeling off consecutive wins before the bye week, the Vikings are 3-3 and at least on the fringes of the NFC playoff hunt.

We're about to find out if these Vikings are any kind of a legitimate playoff contender. After the bye, they host the 5-1 Dallas Cowboys. Then comes a trip to Baltimore to face Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, a road game in Los Angeles against the Chargers and a home tilt with the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers.

It's a brutal stretch, but running back Dalvin Cook told reporters after last week's win that folks are looking at that gauntlet the wrong way.

"They've got to play us, too," Cook said. "That's the thing when you look at it. Everybody is going to say, 'What about the other teams?' Well, what about the Vikings? ... We're a good team, too."

We'll know soon enough if Cook's assessment is at all accurate.

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

No. 15 (down 2 spots): Conor Orr – Sports Illustrated

Their post-bye slate is absolutely brutal and could ultimately define the Cousins-Zimmer era in Minnesota. Sitting at 3–3 right now, the Vikings get Dallas on Halloween, the Ravens and Chargers on the road and the Packers at home. Winning half of those games should earn both an extension.

No. 16 (same spot): Vinnie Iyer – Sporting News

The Vikings have steered their ship in the right direction on the strength of their own familiar formula — a run-heavy offense setting up a dangerous downfield passing game, backed by a good pressure-and-coverage defense for Mike Zimmer. They will look to be more consistent and win non-close games after the bye. The Cowboys are a good immediate litmus test.

No. 14 (down 1 spot): Nate Davis – USA TODAY Sports

Hope your bye week was restful, gents. A horror show begins Halloween night with a visit from Dallas ... followed by matchups against Baltimore, the Bolts and Green Bay.

No. 17 (down 1 spot): Courtney Cronin –

Note: ESPN looked at a preseason prediction that ended up being wrong. ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin went with Christian Darrisaw's impact up front.

The 23rd overall pick missed the entire preseason (groin surgery). So I didn't expect his impact to be as significant as it has been once he supplanted Rashod Hill as the starting left tackle. Darrisaw took on two dominant edge rushers in Brian Burns and Haason Reddick in his first start at Carolina and allowed only one pressure. Vikings right tackle Brian O'Neill noted that quarterback Kirk Cousins felt like he didn't even notice Darrisaw in the game, a sign that the rookie tackle held his own protecting the QB's blindside. While the sample size is limited (Darrisaw has played only 117 snaps in two games), the Vikings' pass protection has been noticeably better when he has been in action, which should be a sign of good things to come.

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

The post-bye schedule gets a lot more difficult.