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NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

How low can you go?

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Los Angeles Chargers v Minnesota Vikings
Yeah, this expression was on a lot of Vikings fans’ faces.
Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

It’s week 4 of the NFL Season, and we at DN decided enough is enough and the Really Smart Football People have had an appropriate amount of time to come to their conclusions about where all 32 franchises are at.

I’ll explore this more in-depth later, but football fans can’t help but feel that there is more parity in the league this year (see Cardinals-Cowboys, a result which Arizona completely deserved of their own accord). Obviously there are some exceptions, but for the Purple and Gold their 0-3 record definitely feels a little harsh.

With both Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson already on pace for record-setting seasons while leading the league in pass yards and receiving yards respectively, it is absolutely criminal those performances are undone (mainly) by absolutely putrid strength-position play.

This has caused our fandom to collectively panic to a rare degree, even for the Vikings. It seems like every fan has their hair set on fire and instead of looking for a hose, everyone is just running around screaming for help.

Ah, the lives of Vikings fans. Let's see where we’re at before hopefully a big bucket of water gets thrown on our heads with a positive result in Carolina.

ESPN: #26 (down 1 from 25)

The Vikings lead the NFL with nine turnovers. Their seven lost fumbles are tied for the second most through three NFL weeks since at least 2000, and Kirk Cousins’ two interceptions have both been costly. One occurred at the goal line a Week 1 loss to the Buccaneers, and the other happened in the end zone to seal their Week 3 defeat against the Chargers. Coach Kevin O’Connell added new practice drills to address the fumble problems after Week 2, but tight end T.J. Hockenson fumbled to end their first possession in the ensuing game. It’s hard to overstate the significance of these turnovers to a team that has lost its three games by a mere 13 points. — Kevin Seifert Eric Edholm, #26 (down 4 from 22)

Is the season over? No, but it’s getting late early. Brian Flores’ defense had acquitted itself fairly respectably in the first two games, even if the limitations were obvious. On Sunday, the unit was diced up by Justin Herbert and Co., unable to pressure him enough or cover on the back end. The Chargers threw 48 passes — 41 were completed, and Vikings DBs batted away only three throws. Actually, Akayleb Evans could have made it four, but his deflected pass went right to Joshua Palmer for a TD. That was bad luck, but the reality of the situation is that the defense has little chance to hang with elite offenses.

Yahoo Sports: Frank Schaub, #24 (down 1 from 23)

Let’s run this stat back: The Vikings were 11-0 in one-score games last season, an NFL record, and this season they’re 0-3. It seems like the Vikings are by far the best of the winless teams, but it’s tough to come back from 0-3. Only six teams in the Super Bowl era started 0-3 and made the playoffs. Since 2002, only one of 99 teams (the 2018 Texans) that started 0-3 made the postseason, via Fox 9 in Minnesota. The Vikings have lost three games by 13 combined points and are in a world of trouble.

USA Today: Nate Davis, #24 (No Change)

WR Justin Jefferson might be your early Offensive Player of the Year, on pace for nearly 2,600 receiving yards. Unless it’s QB Kirk Cousins (league-high 96 completions, 1,075 yards and 9 TDs). Question is, will “KFC” – should he? – finish the season with presently winless Minnesota?

Bleacher Report: #23 (down 2 from 21)

On Sunday, Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings became the fifth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 325 yards and two scores in each of his first three starts in a season, per the NFL’s communications department.

However, he also threw the interception that probably ended any real chance the Vikings had of making the playoffs in 2023.

Last year, the Vikings played in 11 one-score games and won them all. This year, the Vikings have played in three one-score games and lost them all.

Just about everything that could go wrong has for the Vikings. Their minus-seven turnover differential is tied for the worst in the league. The Vikings are once again a dumpster fire defensively, allowing the seventh-most yards and points per game after ranking 31st in total defense last season.

Cousins’ game-sealing pick came after the team squandered precious seconds deciding on a play call near the goal line. After the game, Cousins told reporters the indecision was caused by an inability to hear the play call—because of the Vikings’ own fans.

“Yeah, I just couldn’t hear him, and the noise,” Cousins said. “Just ended up calling a play and it was the same play he was trying to get to.”

There you go, Vikings fans. It’s your fault the team is 0-3 and the season is circling the drain.

Sporting News: Vinnie Iyler, #29 (down 2 from 27)

The Vikings are not having the unsustainable fourth-quarter success of last season and their defense is playing a huge part in the regression below the mean. The reality should be sinking in, despite the talent around Kirk Cousins, they’re not returning to the playoffs.

CBS Sports: Pete Prisco, #29 (down 3 from 26)

At 0-3, their season is all but done. Climbing out of that hole won’t be easy, and the defense probably won’t make it possible.

The Ringer: #20 (up 3 from 23) (Ed note: Really?)

The Vikings were by far the luckiest team last season when it came to recovering fumbles. They fumbled the ball 18 times on offense but lost just eight of those. But on defense, they forced 11 fumbles and recovered 10. This season, the Vikings offense has put the ball on the turf six times … and lost all six of them. The defense has forced just one fumble but didn’t recover it.

There are bright spots, to be sure. The team lost to the Eagles by only six in Week 2, despite Justin Jefferson’s fumble out of the end zone on what should have been a scoring drive. They lost to the Buccaneers by a field goal in Week 1. And just like the Vikings’ advantageous 2022 fumble luck has regressed to begin this season, their run of astounding bad luck shouldn’t continue for 15 more games. Brighter days are ahead. But for those who thought last season’s Vikings were overrated and wouldn’t be able to weather less fortunate bounces of the football, 2023 has been proof. —Riley McAtee

Sports Illustrated: Connor Orr, #29 (no change)

The Kirk Cousins trade watch is on. At 0–3, the Vikings should be in strategic free fall for their next quarterback option. Cousins’s value is never going to be higher than it is right now, just a few weeks before the deadline, with the Jets absolutely in need of a top-line starter and another few teams in need of a high-end backup that may be interested in keeping Cousins out of New York.

Pro Football Network: Dallas Robinson, #24 (up one from #25)

Speaking of blitz-heavy defenses, the Vikings are the only team that sends additional defenders at a higher rate than the Giants. Like New York, Minnesota still can’t seem to push the pocket — the Vikings rank bottom 10 in sacks, quarterback knockdown rate, and pressure rate.

With 10 surveyed Really Smart Football People, the vikings average at 25.4 in the collective power rankings.

Are they on the right track? Where do you think they should be?