It only makes sense that after their first win of the season, your Minnesota Vikings are expected by many to be beaten at home against the defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Taylor Swifts.
Like every week moving forward, we’ll check in and see what the Really Smart Football People think about where the Vikings stack up against the rest of the league.
Last week the Vikes averaged 25.4 across the 11 power rankings surveyed, and are about at the same spot this week. A win is a win, but many were not swayed by what was ultimately an ugly win against a Panthers team that fell in most rankings.
The Vikings kick off against the Chiefs at 3:35 pm local time in Minneapolis.
ESPN: #24 (up 2 from #26)
The Vikings have spent most of the season struggling to generate a pass rush, even as they’ve blitzed more frequently (55%) than any other team in the NFL. Part of the issue has been an ankle injury to outside linebacker Marcus Davenport, who played in only four snaps over the first three games. When Davenport returned in Week 4, he recorded a sack and helped spur the Vikings to five sacks in the second half of a 21-13 victory. But Davenport and Danielle Hunter are the only rushers the Vikings can depend on at this point to win one-on-one battles. — Kevin Seifert
NFL.com: Eric Edholm, #25 (up 1 from #26)
This team is still learning how to turn in a complete performance, but a win is a win. Kirk Cousins had his worst outing of the season, throwing two picks, both in the red zone, including a 99-yard pick-six. But the run game woke up and the defense made enough plays. Harrison Smith had a great day, recording three sacks, including the game-clincher, and his forced fumble was run back by D.J. Wonnum for the go-ahead touchdown. Wonnum was everywhere, too, with a sack and a near pick-six. After falling behind 10-0 early, the Vikings notched a hard-fought road victory. Baby steps.
Yahoo Sports: Frank Schwab #24 (no change)
Safety Harrison Smith is still fantastic. He had 14 tackles and three sacks on Sunday, including sacks on second-and-goal and then fourth-and-goal with the Panthers trailing 21-13 in the final two minutes. Even at age 34, he’s a top safety in the NFL.
USA Today: Nate Davis #25 (down one from #24)
Harrison Smith – “Harry the Hitman” – is still a lethal football assassin. The safety had three sacks Sunday, double his previous career best, including the strip-sack that led to a Minnesota recovery and TD return that finally flipped a game into the W column.
Bleacher Report: #22 (up one from #23)
Last year, the Vikings played in 11 one-score games contests and won them all. Heading into Week 4, they had played in three one-score games and lost each one. The Vikings finally reversed that trend on Sunday in Carolina, even if it took an ugly win to do it.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for just 139 yards and tossed a pair of interceptions, one of which was returned 99 yards for a Panthers touchdown. But thanks to Minnesota’s best defensive effort of the year and a pair of Justin Jefferson touchdown grabs, the Vikings are finally in the win column.
After the win, Cousins credited the defense while talking to reporters.
“They made plays, scored a touchdown and Harrison Smith was phenomenal,” Cousins said. “That was big. For our defense to get us the momentum back as Carolina was driving, and to turn it into seven points for us was huge.”
However, at least one of our analysts remains skeptical.
“One good effort against a bad offense isn’t going to fix all that ails a Vikings defense that has been bad dating back to last season, especially when your next game is against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs,” Davenport said.
“Sunday’s win doesn’t change the trajectory of these Vikings. They are headed nowhere fast this year, and next offseason is going to bring a hard decision regarding whether Cousins is the future or the past.”
Sporting News, Vinnie Iyler: #29 (no change)
The Vikings worked on holding on to the ball a little more, despite Kirk Cousins giving up an early pick six in Carolina. They are finding their way on the ground to help their attacking in the air. Now they need to build on it for Kevin O’Connell.
CBS Sports, Pete Prisco: #29 (no change)
They won their first game at Carolina, but it sure wasn’t pretty. They have to cut down on the mistakes as the Chiefs come to town.
The Ringer: #17 (up 3 from #20)
No description, but man we must have an inside agent at The Ringer. For the second straight week the Vikes gain 3 places.
Sports Illustrated, Connor Orr: #27 (Up 2 from #29)
I saw Kirk Cousins get hit twice in this game—once amid a Jeremy Chinn sack and once as he tried to make a tackle on his pick six—harder than some skill position players get hit all year. This is, ultimately, emblematic of the Vikings’ season: Everything is hard, nothing is beautiful and even the wins leave scars. I still believe the Vikings should not entertain keeping Cousins. Trading him is not difficult and is getting less costly by the week. A loss to the Chiefs next week should seal the precursor to an open bidding process.
Pro Football Network, Dallas Robinson #24 (no change)
After averaging 46 attempts over the Vikings’ first three games, Kirk Cousins threw the ball just 19 times in Minnesota’s first win of the season. Cousins tossed two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, but the Vikings’ defense gave its best effort of the season, holding the Panthers to just 232 total yards.
The Vikings gained a few spots on the whole this week, averaging to 22.3 out of 32 in the power rankings. They recovered by an average of .72 spots across the power rankings.