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Vikings Power Rankings: Week 10

Safe to say, the Really Smart Football People were stunned

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Minnesota Vikings v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images

A little less than halfway through the Minnesota Vikings’ eventual 31-28 win against the Atlanta Falcons, I experienced a strange and strong feeling.

I was honest to god scared. What I had watched up until that point gave me flashbacks to a core memory - one of my first horror movies.

It was one of those that involves a group of people going spelunking. It all starts well enough... Then a rope snaps, sending the leader (in the Vikings’ case, Jaren Hall) into dire straits after a serious fall. One by one, members of the group get subsequently picked off (KJ Osborn, Cam Akers) and it seems as if the only cause for harm is something supernatural.

But then, just as the demon jumps out of the corner, the group says enough is ENOUGH and fights back. The quiet, new member of the group (Josh Dobbs) picks up a rock, uncharacteristically caves the creature’s head in, and against all odds leads the group back out into the light.

The remarkable rise of the Minnesota Vikings from the pit of doom last Sunday is clearly a statement win. Not in the sense that they beat a top team, but in the sense that these Vikings - like any good horror-movie protagonist - scratched, clawed, and fought their way to not only survive, but thrive by playing with a dose of resiliency that was sorely needed.

While there are many wounds to lick, it’s hard not to be proud - even hopeful - of their performance. Many of the ‘experts’ around the league shared a similar sentiment in their latest power rankings.

ESPN: #16 (up 1 from #17)

Non-QB MVP: RT Brian O’Neill

This is difficult given the Vikings’ injury-based roster churn on offense and their weekly personnel shifts on defense. But after spending training camp in the final stages of recovery from an Achilles injury he suffered Jan. 1, O’Neill returned to the lineup in Week 1, has played every offensive snap, and leads the NFL in pass block win rate at 94.7% (ESPN/NFL Next Gen Stats). His presence has been especially valuable given injuries that have forced left tackle Christian Darrisaw to miss a pair of games. It’s always tough to predict voting for postseason awards among offensive linemen, but O’Neill deserves strong consideration for All-Pro honors. — Kevin Seifert Eric Edholm, #17 (up 3 from #20)

Between Kevin O’Connell’s coaching and Joshua Dobbs’ short-week relief work, Sunday’s win ranks pretty highly on the sweetness scale. Considering everyone the Vikings didn’t have going in, plus everyone they lost during the game, this was a coaching masterpiece, with Dobbs providing late heroics after some early setbacks. Thirty-one points and a road victory? Incredible stuff. The defense came up with big plays, especially in the third quarter. With a 5-4 mark and Justin Jefferson’s return looming, it’s not outrageous to think about the playoffs. The Vikings have winnable games remaining against the Broncos, Bears, Raiders and Packers. But this Sunday’s game against the Saints could end up being a massive one for both teams’ playoff hopes. For this Kirk Cousins-less Minnesota outfit, it’s wild that we’re even saying that.

Yahoo Sports: Frank Schwab #18 (up 6 from #24)

Sunday’s win said a lot about Joshua Dobbs, his professionalism and competitiveness. It probably said as much, if not more, about head coach Kevin O’Connell. We see coaches with good quarterbacks come into games with their teams looking unprepared. O’Connell figured out a way to have Dobbs, who had just been benched by a horrible Cardinals team and traded, run a fully functional offense and win on the road. O’Connell has had some good moments, but Vikings fans should go forward after Sunday with more confidence than ever in their coach.

USA Today: Nate Davis #16 (up 7 from #23)

“It’s like if you were taking AP Spanish all year, and you showed up and someone told you Wednesday … you have an AP French exam on Sunday,” new QB Josh Dobbs said of learning Minnesota’s offense on the fly Sunday. Good thing he’ll face the fleur-de-lis from New Orleans on Sunday.

Bleacher Report: #18 (Up 3 from #21)

Kirk who?

With Kirk Cousins on the shelf with a torn Achilles, the Minnesota Vikings turned to rookie Jaren Hall under center—for all of six pass attempts. Then, after Hall was concussed, the Vikes were forced to turn to Joshua Dobbs, who had been with the team all of five days after being acquired at the trade deadline.

Despite having just arrived, Dobbs threw for two touchdown passes and ran for a third, leading the Vikings to a comeback win that was the team’s fourth straight win and fifth victory in six games.

Even Falcons quarterback Taylor Heinicke had to admit to reporters that what Dobbs accomplished was impressive.

“The fact that he got traded this week and comes in and plays like that? He’s a good player, man,” Heinicke said. “Playing on a short week, learning a new playbook and scoring 31 points, kudos to him.”

“Here’s some cold, hard truth,” Davenport said. “The Vikings aren’t going anywhere this year. Even if the team somehow makes the postseason, it’s going to be a situation similar to last year’s Miami Dolphins—a one-and-done cup of coffee with an overmatched quarterback calling the plays. Dobbs didn’t exactly light things up in Arizona. However, Minnesota deserves credit for its resiliency—to lose both its top offensive weapon (wide receiver Justin Jefferson) and quarterback and not fold is a testament to coach Kevin O’Connell and his players. Dobbs will certainly get quite the greeting from Vikings fans at U.S. Bank Stadium next week. But the Saints team they will be playing is also a step up in competition.”

“Dobbs has been with the Minnesota Vikings for less than a week, and he’s already shown why he’s the right guy to fill in for Cousins,” Moton said. “After Hall suffered a concussion in the first quarter, Dobbs took over and helped lead the Vikings to a win over the Falcons. With basic knowledge of the playbook, he threw for 158 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 66 yards and a score. As Dobbs becomes more familiar with head coach and offensive play-caller Kevin O’Connell’s system, he should be able to rack up more yards through the air. With T.J. Hockenson, Jordan Addison and the possible return of Justin Jefferson, Dobbs may be more than a game manager who guides Minnesota back to the playoffs.”

Sporting News, Vinnie Iyler: #14 (up 1 from #15)

How about Josh Dobbs? They didn’t start him, but he sure did finish off the Falcons to keep their momentum going without Kirk Cousins. They’re right back in the thick of the NFC wild-card race and still have two left with the Lions in the final three games.

CBS Sports, Pete Prisco: #12 (up 11 (!!!) from #23)

Josh Dobbs to the rescue. Dobbs came off the bench in his first game with the team and led it to a comeback victory. At 5-4, the Vikings are alive in the playoff race.

Editor’s Note:

This is what Prisco had to say last week: With Kirk Cousins out for the year, they are done, which is why they are down this far. He was playing outstanding football before tearing his Achilles against the Packers. There is no quarterback who can save them now who would be available or who is on the roster.

Eat your crow, Pete!!!!

The Ringer: #18 (up 2 from #20)

Minnesota’s future took a turn for the worse with Kirk Cousins’s injury, obviously. But the Vikings had to love what they saw from Josh Dobbs after he was forced into sudden action against Atlanta. He took a sack for a safety and was strip-sacked in his own territory before he even completed a pass, but rebounded and eventually led Minnesota to a comeback win.

Dobbs isn’t a perfect quarterback, but he showed what he can do with his legs and with smart play calling from Kevin O’Connell on Sunday, and it wasn’t half bad. The bonus? Justin Jefferson could be back soon. —Nora Princiotti

Pro Football Network, Dalton Miller, #15 (up 6 from #21)

Dobbs deserves his flowers. He wasn’t supposed to play against Atlanta, and although the Vikings’ offense is similarly constructed to Arizona’s, the language is different. And there is no rapport built with his new teammates – rapport and timing matter so much at the NFL level.

Still, Dobbs completed two of every three attempts, threw two touchdowns, and ran for one. As he gets more comfortable within the offense, the Vikings could remain competitive in the NFC.

This may be the first time since last year in Buffalo where the Vikings have climbed in every expert’s rankings. They did so on average by a remarkable 5.7 spots (in the middle of the NFL season, mind you) and now sit at an average ranking of 16.