I've never put much stock in Power Rankings, particularly Power Rankings that come two months before the start of Training Camp when nobody really has any idea what's going on with any of the NFL's teams yet. But, they give us something to talk about, and our friend Pete Prisco from CBS Sports has. . .well, he's put together an interesting set of rankings.
Prisco uses what he terms a "four-pronged" approach, that he explains thusly:
As I've done for years here, I am using my four-pronged approach to rate each of the 32 teams. Each of the four categories has players ranked 1-32, one per team, and the player ranked first gets 32 points down to one point for the player ranked last.
There is a catch. The quarterback spot gets double the points since passers are so key to winning -- now more than ever.
The four categories that Prisco refers to are quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher, and cornerback. If Prisco deemed a particular team to have the #1 player in the league in each of those four categories, they could get a maximum of 160 points (64 for the quarterback position, as explained above, and 32 for each of the other three positions). His top team on the list, the Denver Broncos, are about as close to perfect as you can be, according to Prisco, racking up a total of 154.
These "four-pronged" rankings. . .well, they really don't think terribly highly of the Minnesota Vikings. They have our favorite football team down in a tie for 27th with the Buffalo Bills, by far the lowest team that found their way to the post-season in 2012. The next-lowest playoff team from last season would be the Washington Redskins, who rank 15th. According to Prisco, the only teams in the NFL that are worse, based on his rankings, are the Detroit Lions, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Oakland Raiders, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Vikings won 10 games in 2012. . .the four teams below them on this list won 14 combined.
Prisco has the Vikings ranked 29th at the quarterback position with Christian Ponder (behind Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, and the rest of the New York Jets quarterback circus, which is an "are you freaking kidding me" moment all by itself). That's to be expected. But there are also apparently 12 pass rushers in the NFL (at least, since Prisco goes with one guy from each team) better than Jared Allen, who ranks 13th on that list, and 14 left tackles better than Matt Kalil, who was 15th in that category. Chris Cook was deemed the Vikings' top cornerback, and is placed 24th on Prisco's list. . .something that, I guess, I can't argue too much about.
Don't get me wrong. . .I understand that any set of rankings that emphasizes the quarterback position this heavily will automatically put the Vikings at a disadvantage. But there are just so many things that these rankings just flat out ignore. Prisco's apparent ignorance of the running game is a little disappointing. I understand that people like to throw out the mantra that this is a "passing league." However, the folks from Cold Hard Football Facts have also declared that we live in the "Golden Age of the Ground Game." And they're probably right.
For the first time in NFL history, there were four teams that averaged more than five yards/carry, with the Vikings' average of 5.42 ypc putting them seventh all-time. The top four teams in the league in rushing. . .the Washington Redskins, the Minnesota Vikings, the Seattle Seahawks, and the San Francisco 49ers. . .comprised two-thirds of the NFC playoff field this past season. This year's Super Bowl was contested between two teams that ranked 15th (the Baltimore Ravens) and 23rd (San Francisco) in passing in the regular season. (The Ravens were the 11th-best rushing team this past season in terms of yardage.)
Yes, there aren't many teams in the National Football League that are built around the running back position. The Minnesota Vikings are a team that is. . .and, you know, there's a pretty damn good reason for that, considering that they have the guy that was just named the league's Most Valuable Player at that spot in the lineup. People can hype the emergence of the passing game as much as they'd like, but even with the prolific passing numbers that teams are putting up, there is still more than one way to win games in today's National Football League. People will say that the Vikings can't replicate such success on the ground in 2013. Of course, many of those same people didn't think they'd have that level of success on the ground in 2012, either.
To suggest that the Minnesota Vikings are one of the worst teams in the National Football League, while par for the course from today's football media, is pretty laughable. When Prisco put these same rankings together prior to the 2012 season, the Vikings were in the same place they are now. . .in a tie for 27th with Buffalo and Indianapolis. The Colts have jumped all the way to a tie for 13th in this year's version of the rankings, but according to Prisco, nothing has really changed in Buffalo or Minnesota.
That's fine. Hopefully these rankings will hold as true to form for the 2013 Minnesota Vikings as they did for the 2012 Minnesota Vikings.