NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: The Vikings Have Dug Themselves a Deep Hole at 0-2

The Vikings mostly remain stagnant in the power rankings this week, dropping one spot if anything.
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The Vikings have played two dramatic, highly entertaining football games that have come down to the very end. They've been far from perfect, but in each week, they've had the ball in or near field goal range with a chance to win the game.

Both times, disaster struck. Dalvin Cook's controversial fumble and Greg Joseph's missed 37-yard field goal are two of the three biggest negative swings in win probability on a single play in the NFL this season, according to EdjSports.

Using their estimated win probability prior to those two plays, the Vikings had a 1.3 percent chance of losing both games. And yet, that's exactly what happened. Now they're in a strange position where they can feel good about a lot of things they've done in the first two weeks, but they're still sitting at the bottom of the league standings as one of seven 0-2 teams.

With 15 games left to play, including all six divisional matchups, the Vikings have plenty of time to turn things around and get to where they want to be. But their mistakes have destroyed their margin for error, and now they need to find a way to win tough matchups against the Seahawks and Browns. At least those games are at home, where the U.S. Bank Stadium crowd should be incredible in the return to full capacity regular season contests.

Let's take a look at where the Vikings stand in this week's national power rankings and what people are saying about their strange start.

Mitch Goldich, SI.com: No. 24 (No change)

One thing doing this exercise has reinforced is that I actually think there are a bunch of really good teams, and also a bunch of average teams, and it takes a while before you get to the really bad ones. Watching the Vikings, I don’t think, “Oh, that’s the 24th best team in the league.” But then looking at where to put them, this is where I landed. But outside of having a few playmakers who are fun to watch, I just can’t get excited about the general direction this team is headed in. Even though they are a couple of bounces away from being 2-0! Our brains are weird.

Dan Hanzus, NFL.com: No. 24 (No change)

The line between 2-0 and 0-2 in the NFL can be painfully thin. The Vikings know that all too well. In Week 1, fortunes turned on a Dalvin Cook fumble in overtime. Sunday was even worse: Greg Joseph pushed a 37-yard field-goal attempt wide right as time expired to seal an excruciating 34-33 loss to the Cardinals. "It's a perfect surface," Zimmer lamented afterward. "I'm thinking, This should be an easy one here." Nothing is easy for Minnesota, of course, especially when it comes to kickers. It's a 17-game haul, which means there's still plenty of time for the Vikings to right their ship. But back-to-back heartbreakers like this can alter an entire season. Gut-check time has already arrived.

Bleacher Report Staff: No. 25 (No change)

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: No. 26 (No change)

That was a tough way to lose a game against Arizona, losing on a missed field goal on the final play. At 0-2, they have a big hole to dig out of going forward.

Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: No. 26 (Down 1 spot)

The NFL can be cruel. The Vikings gave up a fourth-and-inches completion to lose in overtime of Week 1. They had a 37-yard field goal to win in Week 2. If they're 1-0-1, they probably are feeling pretty good. Now, they might be wondering if Mike Zimmer is on the hot seat. 

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: No. 26 (Down 3 spots)

The optimist would say the Vikings should be 2-0 with better game-finishing and kicking fortunes. The pessimist would say this part of their underachieving identity under Mike Zimmer. The offense will keep doing its part, but the special teams and defense might be too difficult to overcome.

Nate Davis, USA Today: No. 25 (Down 1 spot)

Mike Zimmer called last season's defense the "worst" he'd ever coached, but this year's unit is threatening to lower the bar. The Vikings have allowed at least 24 points in nine consecutive games.

Mike Florio, PFT: No. 24 (No change)

The best 0-2 team in the league is still 0-2.

ESPN Staff: No. 26 (Down 1 spot)

Danny Kelly, The Ringer: No. 26 (Down 1 spot)

The Vikings should have beaten the Cardinals, and they would have if kicker Greg Joseph hadn’t missed a 37-yarder with four seconds to go in the game. But after starting 0-2, Minnesota has dug itself into a deep hole. We’ll find out whether Kirk Cousins and Co. can dig themselves out, but in the meantime I’m going to just enjoy watching this offense. The Vikings have apparently become appointment viewing for fans of offensive football: Cousins seems to turn into an All Pro–level quarterback when he’s faced with a big deficit, and the skill-player triumvirate of Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and Dalvin Cook is always up for a big play or three.

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