After a second straight victory over a division rival, the Minnesota Vikings are continuing their upward trend in the Power Rankings around the internet. But, just how far did their 34-20 win over the Detroit Lions bump them up this week?
Let’s find out, as we take a spin around the interwebs for this week’s Power Rankings Roundup!
Dan Hanzus, NFL.com: #16 (Last week: #20)
Adrian Peterson is the last running back to win Most Valuable Player honors, earning the coveted award following his 2,000-yard season in 2012. Eight years later, another Vikings superstar has announced his presence in the MVP race. Dalvin Cook rushed for 206 yards and two scores in Sunday’s 34-20 win over the Lions and has now put together back-to-back games with more than 200 yards from scrimmage. Cook is up to four games this season with at least two scores, and his relentless playmaking ability has allowed Kirk Cousins to settle in after a dreadful start to his season. Cousins threw three touchdown passes on Sunday and didn’t have a turnover for the second consecutive week. With a forgiving schedule ahead, the Vikings might just work themselves back into the playoff picture after a 1-5 start.
Matt Williamson, Pro Football Network: #19 (Last week: #22)
The Vikings have somewhat quietly resurrected their season. Without question, the biggest reason for Minnesota playing well of late is Dalvin Cook. What Cook has done these past two weeks -and really all year long – is just remarkable. The Vikings averaged a whopping 8.9 yards per offensive play.
But that also sells the rest of this team short. And remember that Minnesota had two punts blocked in this game. Mike Zimmer deserves a lot of credit as the Vikings have now won back to back divisional games.
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: #18 (Last week: #20)
If they keep playing like they’ve been playing, they’ll take a 7-5 record to Tampa Bay next month.
MMQB, Sports Illustrated: #17 (Last week: #20)
Are the Vikings surging? Maybe not quite yet. But if they can beat the struggling Bears on Monday night, a date with the Cowboys is the only thing between them and getting back to the .500 mark. Dalvin Cook is playing like the best running back in the league right now.
ESPN: #19 (Last week: #21)
Recalibrated expectation: Grab the NFC’s No. 7 seed
An expanded field could help Minnesota keep its postseason hopes alive after a 1-5 start. If their last two wins are a sign of second-half turnaround, the Vikings are inching closer to getting in contention for the last spot in the playoffs. They’ll need the 49ers and Rams to stumble and hope Chicago continues to falter in order to jump up in the standings, but a favorable schedule the rest of the way might help their case.
Reddit: #18 (Last week: #21)
Danny Kelly, The Ringer: #18 (Last week: #21)
The Vikings seemed to be throwing up the white flag for the season a few weeks back when they traded pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, one of their key offseason acquisitions, to the Ravens. Of course, you could’ve hardly blamed Minnesota for that decision, considering the team sat at 1-5 going into its bye with the then-5-1 and division-leading Packers on the slate for Week 8.
But something unexpected has happened in the past two weeks: Running back Dalvin Cook has returned from a hamstring injury with a fiery vengeance, leading the Vikings out of the depths of despair and to the fringe of the postseason discussion. Cook exploded for 163 yards and three touchdowns on 30 rushes in the team’s shocking 28-22 win against the Packers last week, adding 63 yards and a score through the air. He reprised his role as basically the team’s entire offense on Sunday, rushing for 206 yards and two touchdowns while adding 46 yards on the ground in Minnesota’s 34-20 win against the Lions.
En route to almost single-handedly winning his team two games and racking up beaucoup points for fantasy managers, Cook joined a select club of just three running backs who have totaled 225-plus scrimmage yards and two-plus rushing touchdowns in back-to-back games since 1950 (the others being Deuce McAllister and Hall of Famer Jim Brown). And it’s not like Cook is just benefiting from big holes and wide run lanes provided by his offensive line, either: Per PFF, Cook has totaled 278 rushing yards after contact in the past two weeks, 85 more yards than any other running back has totaled, either before or after contact, in that stretch.
The Vikings can’t expect to get 225-plus scrimmage yards from their Pro Bowl running back every week. But along with pass catchers Adam Thielen and rookie Justin Jefferson, it’s clear that quarterback Kirk Cousins and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak have a damn-talented trio of playmakers to build their offense around as the Vikings look to claw their way back into contention. The schedule lines up nicely for Minnesota, too, as the Vikings draw the spiraling Bears, the Cowboys, the Panthers, and the Jaguars in the next four weeks. Things will get tougher for the Vikings down the stretch, with matchups against the Buccaneers and Saints in December, but it wouldn’t be too wild if we’re talking about Minnesota as a dark horse playoff team a month from now.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: #19 (Last week: #24)
They have won two straight games and at 3-5 they have a soft schedule the next few weeks. Can they get back into playoff contention?
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: #19 (Last week: #23)
The Vikings are creeping back into the NFC wild-card race. Consider four of their losses are to above-.500 times, including the Packers, the Seahawks,the Colts and the Titans. Dalvin Cook and a favorable schedule makes them a team to watch in the second half.
Bleacher Report: #19 (Last week: #24)
It’s Dalvin Cook’s world. The rest of us are just living in it.
One week after gashing the Green Bay Packers for 226 total yards and four touchdowns over the Green Bay Packers, Cook went ballistic again against the Detroit Lions. The fourth-year pro averaged over nine yards per carry on 22 totes, piled up a staggering 252 total yards and found the end zone twice.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer talked up his star running back after the game:
“Dalvin is a terrific player because it doesn’t matter to him. Obviously he wants to get 200 yards every week but he’s going to do all the dirty work ... he’s going to do everything. That’s why he’s a captain. That’s why he comes to work every single day. He’s a terrific leader, he’s energetic and guys in the locker room really love him.”
Thanks to Cook, the Vikings have life. And while there’s a long way to go before we can start talking about a wild-card berth, they’re going to keep ascending these rankings if Cook keeps playing like this.
“Hand the ball to Dalvin Cook and good things happen,” Sobleski said. “The running back has saved the Vikings’ season since he returned from a groin injury. Cook’s 478 total yards and six touchdowns over the last two weeks is an entire season for some running backs. At 3-5 with an established identity, Minnesota still has life in the playoff hunt.”
The Athletic: #16 (Last week: #17)
It feels like every week in this space, I either write “Ok, we can count the Vikings out” or “Let’s not count the Vikings out just yet.” Good luck figuring out which version of this team is going to show up each week. If they would’ve just converted that late fourth down at Seattle a few weeks ago, the Vikings would be 4-4 and in the middle of the playoff picture. They’re 3-5 but have a bunch of winnable games on their schedule: the Bears (twice), Jaguars, Lions, Cowboys and Panthers. Douglas’ model gives Minnesota a 20.4 percent chance of making the playoffs. I can’t quit this team… unless they lose to the Bears next week. In which case I will quit this team (again).
Nate Davis, USA Today: #18 (Last week: #21)
Don’t look now, but RB Dalvin Cook’s two-week explosion has vaulted him past Derrick Henry for the league rushing lead (858 yards).
Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: #17 (Last week: #25)
The Vikings might be better than the 3-5 record indicates. They have been better lately. And nobody has been hotter than Dalvin Cook. Maybe this is a team that gets on a roll in the second half of the season.
Associated Press: #17 (Last week: #22)
No commentary from the AP, as per usual.
So, the Vikings are officially out of the 20s in the eyes of all the outlets we survey for our Roundup, which is a positive. They’re basically right in the middle of the league, as their average ranking this week comes in at 17.86, nearly four full spots higher than last week’s average of 21.5.
Here’s what it looks like on the graph, as the roller coaster continues for our favorite club. If you wish, you may click on the picture to embiggen it for easier viewing.
If the Vikings can get themselves a win on Monday Night at their own personal hell, Soldier Field, the climb will more than likely continue as the Vikings will have built themselves some serious momentum going into a three-game homestand.
But, that’s where things stand for now in the Power Rankings, ladies and gentlemen. We’ll be back next week with a brand new Roundup for your reading pleasure!