NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Vikings Heading Into Massive Final Stretch
The Vikings remained undefeated at home this past weekend, beating the woeful Lions in a game that never felt close even with a final score of 20-7.
It was a performance that was expected from the Vikings – nothing more, nothing less. As a result, they didn't move much in this week's power rankings. Now the difficult part of their final stretch begins. A road game against the Chargers this weekend won't be easy, and it's followed by the Vikings looking to split their season series against the rival Packers and Bears.
Here's where the Vikings rank this week, with commentary from the media.
SI.com MMQB: No. 8 (Down 1 spot)
SI's voters have the Vikings as high as No. 4 and as low as No. 10.
"The defense held the Lions to just 161 yards of offense, with Danielle Hunter picking up three solo sacks, while Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone rumbled for 120 total rushing yards."
NFL.com: No. 8 (Up 1 spot)
"These are good days to catch the Lions on your schedule, and the Vikings handled their business in a 20-7 win. At 9-4, the Vikings remain in second place in the NFC North but still have a head-to-head matchup remaining with the division-leading Packers. As expected, the Minnesota defense dominated a Lions offense led by third-string quarterback David Blough. Detroit didn't reach 100 yards of total offense until its 40th snap of the game and avoided a shutout thanks only to a garbage-time touchdown reception by Kenny Golladay. The star on defense was Danielle Hunter, who had three sacks in the first half, giving him 12.5 on the season and 52.5 in his five-year career. At 25 years old and 40 days, Hunter is the youngest player to reach 50 sacks since the NFL started tracking the stat in 1982. Not a bad return on investment for a third-round pick."
ESPN.com: No. 8 (Down 1 spot)
"The Vikings restructured their offense to make Dalvin Cook the centerpiece and surround Kirk Cousins with a host of weapons that would allow them to excel even when faced with injuries or other complications. That approach created a top-10 offense that has had to bail out Minnesota's defense at times. The FPI ranking of the Vikings' defense doesn't quite tell the whole story. This unit is not what it has been in years past, and that can be attributed to a host of issues. Still, the Vikings are a 9-4 team that has all the tools it needs with the playoffs on the horizon."
CBS Sports: No. 8 (Down 1 spot)
"They didn't do a lot on offense against the Lions, but they did enough. The defense was outstanding and now they face a tough road test against the Chargers."
Sporting News: No. 8 (Down 1 spot)
"The Vikings didn't get many style points for their win against the overmatched Lions. They are going out with the same balanced, explosive offense every week, and their defense needed a get-well game. They can’t afford to look past the Chargers as the Packers and Bears rematches loom."
The Athletic: No. 8 (No change)
"I felt sort of bad for not catching that much of the Vikings-Lions game live (hey, it was opposite Niners-Saints and Ravens-Bills!), but then I saw The Athletic’s Chad Graff describe the 20-7 Vikings’ win as “lethargic” and “dull” in the first sentence of his story from US Bank Stadium on Sunday, so I think we’re all OK just knowing the Vikings won and are still in position for a wild card playoff spot and within striking distance of the NFC North (one game of Green Bay, with a head-to-head game in Week 16.)"
Yahoo! Sports: No. 8 (Up 2 spots)
"Don’t forget, the Vikings have been without receiver Adam Thielen for four games due to a hamstring injury. The team is hopeful he returns next week. That would be an enormous boost for an offense that still has done fairly well without him."
Bleacher Report: No. 8 (Up 1 spot)
"The Minnesota Vikings have had a good season, winning nine of their first 13 games after taking care of a short-handed Lions team at home. But with the Green Bay Packers one game ahead of them in the NFC North and the Los Angeles Rams lurking just one game back in the wild-card race, there's not much margin for error. The Vikings didn't play their best football in Week 14, especially on offense. They had just 354 total yards of offense against a bad Lions defense and went just 5-of-14 on third down. But the defense completely put the clamps on Detroit's offense, giving up just 231 total yards and shutting out the Lions until the game was well in hand. It was a workmanlike effort against an overmatched team that sets Minnesota up for the all-important stretch run—a trip to Los Angeles to face the Chargers before massive home games against the rival Packers and Bears. Depending on how things play out, the Vikings could hit the playoffs as division champions—or miss the postseason altogether. No pressure."