On one hand a win is a win.
On the other hand, not all wins are necessarily equal. True, they all *technically* matter just as much as another, but there are sure to be some hollow victories mixed in.
Last Sunday was one of those days for the Vikings. Most wins are supposed to show progress. The Bears contest did not, and I’d argue (as do the Really Smart Football People) it even showed regression. Had our opponent not been the pitiful Bears, there remains doubt that the game would have ended with a positive result.
Last week was like watching a comedy skit where plenty of slips, trips, and falls miraculously ended with the Vikings on two feet and just across the finish line. It felt like they won by mistake, or at least, didn’t want to lose as bad as the Bears did.
The play that summed up the most succinctly was the game sealing interception by Byron Murphy where he almost lost a fumble on the return after as bad of a duck (thrown by Bears’ QB2 Tyson Bagent) you’ll see this year in the NFL.
Not confidence inspiring to say the least, and that was the general consensus for this week’s power rankings:
ESPN: #25 (no change)
Lesson learned: The pendulum swings on one-score games.
During the 2022 regular season, the Vikings were famously 11-0 in one-score games. This season, they are 2-4. And yet there’s reason to believe the quality of the two teams has been roughly the same, at least before receiver Justin Jefferson’s hamstring injury last week. ESPN’s FPI ranks the 2023 Vikings at No. 15 in the NFL. Their 2022 FPI ranking was No. 16. In truth, the 2022-23 Vikings have been an extreme example of the difference a handful of plays can make on a game and a season. They ranked No. 5 last year in the NFL’s “luck metric,” a measure of win probability added by plays such as dropped interceptions and fumble recoveries. Through six weeks of 2023, the Vikings rank No. 32. — Kevin Seifert
NFL.com: Eric Edholm, #25 (no change)
The good news is that the Vikings are now 1-0 without Justin Jefferson this season. The bad news: The offense didn’t really have much to do with Sunday’s 19-13 win in Chicago. The hope was that Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson and maybe Alexander Mattison could each help absorb some of Jefferson’s production, and they did, at least to some extent — but the offense really labored outside of the impressive touchdown drive right before halftime. In six second-half possessions, Minnesota gained a grand total of 36 yards. That left the team’s fate in the hands of the defense. Say the words “backup QB” to a Vikings fan and watch the color leave that face. Chase Daniel, Cooper Rush and Matt Moore are recent QB2s who have beaten Minnesota, and it looked for a second like Tyson Bagent would join the illustrious club before the defense forced two criticalsecond-half turnovers.
Yahoo Sports: Frank Schwab #22 (up one from #23)
The Vikings’ season was possibly saved by Creed. That might be the ultimate “desperate times call for desperate measures” story.
USA Today: Nate Davis #25 (no change)
Another week and another key injury (LB Marcus Davenport, ankle) for a struggling team apparently determined not to have a fire sale.
Bleacher Report: #25 (down 2 from #23)
The Minnesota Vikings came into Week 6 a desperate 1-4 team short their best playmaker clinging like grim death to rapidly fading postseason hopes.
They left Chicago with a win, thanks in large part to the team’s best defensive performance of the season. But if Week 6 was any indication, Minnesota’s playoff hopes are just about done.
Yes, the Vikings got the victory. But without Justin Jefferson, Minnesota had just 220 yards of offense against one of the league’s worst defenses. Even Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said the team didn’t play well offensively.
“I felt like we would have a positive play, get to a manageable down and distance, and then we’d have a negative play, whether it was a penalty or go backward a little bit,” Cousins told reporters. “And now, we’ve sort of shot ourselves in the foot in order to be able to extend the drive.”
Mind you, this is a Vikings team that ranks 21st in the league in scoring defense. A team that ranks 30th in the NFL in rushing after letting Dalvin Cook go in the offseason. Jefferson was far and away the most valuable player on Minnesota’s roster.
And now that he’s sidelined indefinitely, there’s really nothing left to talk about but Kirk Cousins’ future (or lack thereof) in purple and gold.
Sporting News, Vinnie Iyler: #25 (up 1 from #26)
The Vikings are now beating up on bad teams to get wins, as they’ve beaten only the Panthers and Bears. They will be upset-minded with their defense again when they host the 49ers next, but they do need a quick offensive rebound with Kirk Cousins in a tough spot.
CBS Sports, Pete Prisco: #26 (up 2 from #28)
Winning at Chicago may delay any of that talk of selling off parts at the trade deadline. They face a tough one against the 49ers this week.
The Ringer: #21 (down 2 from #19)
The Vikings eked out a wholly unimpressive 19-13 win over a bad Bears squad on Sunday, moving to 2-4 on the season. The Kirk Cousins–led offense struggled to get things rolling without Justin Jefferson, posting a paltry 220 total yards on a previously sieve-like Chicago defense. A division win is a division win, but that performance only adds to a preponderance of evidence that Minnesota is close to a rebuild—especially with Jefferson out for a month or more. It was reported on Sunday that Cousins is expected to stay with the team as he plays out the final year of his contract, but we’ll find out next week if a matchup with the fearsome 49ers defense will change that narrative. —Danny Kelly
Pro Football Network, Dallas Robinson #24 (up 2 from #26)
While the Vikings managed to win in their first WR Justin Jefferson-less game, Minnesota’s offense only scored one touchdown against a Bears defense that shouldn’t scare anyone.
The Vikings are already three games back of the Detroit Lions in the NFC North. Although they could still threaten for a Wild Card berth, Minnesota seems closer to selling off parts at the deadline than making a real run. But QB Kirk Cousins — who doesn’t plan to waive his no-trade clause — won’t be going anywhere.