Once again, the Vikings didn't play their best game. What could've been a straightforward victory over the Saints in London turned into a nail-biter because the offense struggled to finish red zone trips in the first half and the defense fell apart late.
Once again, though, Kevin O'Connell's team found a way to win.
The Vikings have a lot to work on, but what matters most is that they're 3-1 and sitting atop the NFC North through four weeks.
Let's take our weekly look at the national power rankings to see where the Vikings are and what various analysts think about their dramatic win across the pond.
Conor Orr, SI.com: No. 10 (Down 1 spot)
The Vikings are effectively weaponizing most areas of the field now, and are starting to create some serious space for guys not named Justin Jefferson when their elite No. 1 draw too much attention. Third-and-goal from the 15? No problem. Backup running back Alexander Mattison will walk one in.
Bo Wulf, The Athletic: No. 14 (Down 4 spots)
Saved by a double-doink and two ticky-tack penalties on the Saints’ secondary, the Vikings escaped London with a win. With a favorable schedule the rest of the season, they look like a likely playoff team, despite the No. 25 defense by EPA per drive. One area in which they should expect some positive regression is Kirk Cousins’ performance against the blitz. Through four games, he ranks 30th of 31 qualifying quarterbacks in EPA per dropback against the blitz, which has not historically been an issue for him. Perhaps that’s the kind of thing one should expect to improve over the course of the season in a new offense.
Dan Hanzus, NFL.com: No. 9 (No change)
The Vikings responded to a humbling prime-time loss to the Eagles with back-to-back four- and three-point victories. This bodes well for a team that figures to play in plenty of close games this season. The biggest development in Sunday's win over the Saints in London was the return of Justin Jefferson as a prolific playmaker. After a pair of quiet outings, the third-year wideout scored untouched on a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, then had the 39-yard reception that set up Greg Joseph's game-winner in the final minute of play. Jefferson is Kevin O'Connell's one true trump card: When he's on one, Minnesota can play with any team in the league.
ESPN Staff: No. 7 (Up 2 spots)
The biggest issue on defense is ... soft coverage.
Vikings opponents are catching 75% of their targeted passes, the second-highest rate in the NFL. Of the 97 pass completions against them, 69 have come by receivers who have at least three yards of separation at the time of the throw, the fourth-highest total in the league. -- Kevin Seifert
Austin Gayle, The Ringer: No. 12 (Down 1 spot)
We’re learning that any time Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen get one-on-one matchups, and if Kirk Cousins is generally protected up front, the Vikings will be uber-competitive. It happened Sunday in London against the Saints. New Orleans entered Week 4 dead last in quarterback pressure rate, and that trend continued. Cousins had plenty of time, and the Jefferson-Thielen combo won most of the one-on-one matchups with the secondary en route to a combined 18 receptions for 219 yards. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore shadowed Jefferson for most of the game, and it wasn’t pretty.
Jefferson told the media after the game just how confident he is in one-on-one situations compared to the double and triple coverage he’s seen in recent weeks. Concerns remain for how the Vikings’ offense will fare when teams throw multiple defenders at Jefferson and force Cousins and Co. out of their comfort zone, but there’s enough time in the season for first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell to adjust for that and keep the Vikings on track for the postseason.
Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: No. 11 (Down 2 spots)
The Vikings didn't look great in London, but Justin Jefferson made the plays when he had to. In a league that has just about every team trending toward the middle it's not bad to be 3-1, even with some ugly wins.
Bleacher Report Staff: No. 7 (Up 2 spots)
The Vikings haven't exactly been piling up the style points the past couple of weeks. But those don't matter nearly as much as the final score. And with the Vikings off to their best start since 2016, that long plane ride back to the States will be a lot more pleasant.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: No. 7 (Up 4 spots)
At 3-1, they are in first place after a victory over the Saints in London. The good news is they got Justin Jefferson back on track. The defense, though, has to be better.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: No. 8 (Up 2 spots)
The Vikings figured out how to get Justin Jefferson going like he exploded in Week 1 and their defense took advantage of a shorthanded Saints offense. They're still a work in progress so they should be thrilled with the early record.
Mike Florio, PFT: No. 14 (Up 2 spots)
In past years, the Vikings would find a way to lose close games. This year, they’re finding a way to win them.
Nate Davis, USA Today: No. 6 (Up 1 spots)
Unfortunately, literally a tough break for first-round S Lewis Cine. His leg injury (a compound fracture, per NFL Network) was so severe, he's remaining in London for surgery and the initial stages of his recovery until he's well enough to fly home.
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