clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vikings Power Rankings: Week 15

A big dog defensive performance is all the Vikings have to hang their hat (and a win) on this week

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Minnesota Vikings v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

More Injuries, more offensive frustration, more quarterbacks, and more football weirdness.

This Vikings team is having one heck of an odd season, filled with great, good, bad, and ugly. It feels as if this team is playing a game of whack-a-mole where each week something is fixed just to have something else pop up on the other side of the yard.

One week (like this one) it’s stupid injuries and disappointing quarterback play. Another, it’s the turnovers. And another, it’s a great game that was won the right way with plenty of signs for optimism.

The Vikings started on a 3-game losing streak, won one, lost one, rattled off 5 wins in a row, lost two, and now won another. The extreme volatility isn’t just limited to the team’s win-loss record. It shouldn’t be surprising, but 12 out of 13 games this year have been by one score.

They've won a game with 31 points and they've won a game with 3. They will have 4 starting QBs in one season for the first time in franchise history, surpassing the mark of 3 in one season set on 12 different occasions.

I’m not saying they're good, and I’m not saying they’re bad (that's what the people below do), but what I am saying is that they are weird, and the NFL does not like weird teams.

Still, one thing remains certain in this godforsaken season: The Vikings still have everything to play for across these final 4 games. More so than most other teams in the league, by virtue of their current 2 game deficit on the division leaders, who are sputtering, with both games against them remaining.

There is a big difference between 7-6 and 6-7 in this NFL season, particularly in the NFC, where there are six 6-7 teams. If you are 6-7, you are: the Green Bay Packers, out of a playoff spot, or in the awful NFC South. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 9-8 or, god forbid, an 8-9 team make the postseason in the NFC.

Couple that with a division rival hot on their heels, and pressure is being applied from both ends. It’s going to be a fast and furious end to the season folks, so it’s time to batten down the hatches!

ESPN: #18 (down 1 from #17)

Biggest improvement: Defensive takeaways

The Vikings’ defense has improved in several ways since its shaky start to the season. But after forcing only two turnovers in the first three games of the season, tied for No. 22 in the NFL, the defense forced 17 in its next 10 games — tied for No. 7 during that period. That uptick, which includes nine fumble recoveries and nine interceptions, has coincided with seven victories in 10 games. — Kevin Seifert

NFL.com: Eric Edholm, #17 (no change)

Kevin O’Connell did not pull the bye-week trigger on a quarterback change — but by the fourth quarter against the Raiders on Sunday, he’d seen enough, benching Joshua Dobbsfor Nick Mullens. And it worked — kinda. Mullens was a more efficient thrower down the stretch, and a field goal was all Minnesota needed in a 3-0 win. KOC now faces an interesting decision: Go back to Dobbs or give Mullens a shot? Like any good coach, he kept his options open, saying they’re “a week-to-week offense at this point,” which is especially true with Justin Jefferson hurt again. But boy, this Vikings’ defense is out to prove something. Ever since the Week 5 loss to the Chiefs, Brian Flores’ group has been lights out. Shutouts are pretty darned rare; Minnesota’s was just the fifth in the NFL this season, and there were only four in 2022. For that, the Vikings remain fascinating, warts and all.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Minnesota Vikings will start quarterback Nick Mullens against the Bengals on Saturday, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday.

Yahoo Sports: Frank Schwab #14 (up 5 from #19)

It’s shocking how fast the Joshua Dobbs story crashed to earth. Nick Mullensgot the nod in the fourth quarter when Dobbs was benched in a 0-0 game, and Mullens at least did enough to get a 3-0 win. That game was hideous but a huge win for Minnesota’s playoff hopes. Mullens probably becomes the Vikings’ fourth starting quarterback in this weird season for them.

USA Today: Nate Davis #19 (down 2 from #17)

C’mon, Kevin O’Connell, free Nick Mullens – Southern Miss quarterbacks have a glorious history with the Vikes … at least for one season.

Bleacher Report: #19 (down 4 from #15)

Without question, the most exciting game of Week 14 took place in Las Vegas, a thrilling back-and-forth affair between the Raiders and Minnesota Vikings.

Just kidding. The Vikings and Raiders actually played a “game” that was an affront to the sport of football—the lowest-scoring NFL game in 16 years.

It was a hideous affair, but Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (who replaced the ineffective Josh Dobbs) told reporters he’ll take a win any way he can get one.

“You never know when your name is going to be called, but you prepare and work as hard as you can and trust that there’s a plan out there for you,” Mullens said. “I did that, stepped in. The guys did an incredible job. ... It doesn’t matter what it looks like. A win is a win.”

“Based on perspective, you could say the Vikings pulled off a gritty 3-0 road win over the Raiders, but in reality, their offense has put together subpar performances going back to Week 11. Minnesota has failed to score more than 20 points in three consecutive outings,” Moton said. “On Sunday, the Vikings benched quarterback Joshua Dobbs for Nick Mullens, who helped lead the offense into field-goal range for the game-winning kick. Because of the Vikings’ questions under center, they’re not going to make much movement in the power rankings. They must address a quarterback controversy, which will significantly impact their push for a playoff spot.”

Sporting News, Vinnie Iyler: #16 (up 2 from #18)

The Vikings got away with dismal offense and a QB change to Nick Mullens in Las Vegas. The ball just wasn’t moving and there was a deflated feeling of losing Justin Jefferson to a new injury not long after finally getting him back. Minnesota is winning but its playoff position is precarious.

CBS Sports, Pete Prisco: #15 (down 3 from #12)

The offense is so limited right now, but the defense got a shutout to beat the Raiders on Sunday. They can’t count on that every week.

The Ringer: #21 (down 1 from #20)

The Vikings are 7-6 and alive in the NFC playoff race, but Sunday’s 3-0 win against the Raiders didn’t encourage a lot of belief in this team. Minnesota will go through a week of quarterback-related questions after Nick Mullens was inserted for a struggling Josh Dobbs on Sunday, but the more important question has to do with wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who was taken to the hospital with a chest injury after getting hit hard by Las Vegas safety Marcus Epps in the second quarter, the first game back for Jefferson after he missed two months with a hamstring injury. —Nora Princiotti

Pro Football Network, Dalton Miller, #19 (down 2 from #17)

It’s not often that you get to bench a quarterback and still win a football game, but the Vikings got the job done to remain above .500. Dobbs played well when he first got to Minnesota, but that flame quickly flickered out.

After getting Justin Jefferson back after an extended absence, the superstar wide receiver was quickly knocked out of this game, and the team took him to the hospital for precautionary purposes.