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NFL Power Rankings, Week 6: Vikings Facing Another Must-Win on Sunday at Carolina

The Vikings merely avoided disaster against the Lions. Now they face a tougher test in the Panthers.

The Vikings didn't accomplish anything by beating the Lions on Sunday, especially not in unimpressive, near-disaster fashion. All they did was keep their season alive and make this week's game against the Panthers — their first road trip since Week 2 — a meaningful one.

Win, and the Vikings will have given themselves a chance at 3-3 heading into the bye week. Lose, and things almost certainly aren't turning around after the bye, given that the Panthers are probably the weakest team they'll face until the second Lions game in December.

This game is massive for Minnesota, and the Panthers are going to be fired up for it too after crashing back to earth with two losses following their 3-0 start.

Let's see what the national power rankings make of the Vikings' a-win-is-a-win result in Week 5.

Albert Breer, SI.com: No. 20 (Up 1 spot)

Did you know Kirk Cousins is having a career year? It’s true! And yet, Minnesota was this close to giving visiting Detroit its first win on Sunday and falling to 1—4.

Dan Hanzus, NFL.com: No. 15 (Up 2 spots)

No Dalvin Cook? No problem! That was the general sentiment — perhaps not behind the scenes at Vikings headquarters — but around the team as it prepared for the winless Lions on Sunday. Naturally, Minnesota found itself in a street fight against Dan Campbell's scrappy group, which pushed the Vikings to the brink before the kicker saved the day. Greg Joseph hit four of five kicks, including the 54-yarder as time expired in a 19-17 win over Detroit. It was a redemptive moment for Joseph, whose miss from 37 yards out cost the Vikings a win over the Cardinals in Week 2. Still, concerns linger over an offense that looked all but unstoppable in the season's first three weeks. Is it a simple slump, or a sign of bigger issues?

Bleacher Report Staff: No. 23 (Up 1 spot)

At the end of the day, the Minnesota Vikings will take a win any way they can get one—Sunday's two-point victory over the winless Lions included.But look past the final score, and there's more than a little reason to be uneasy.Playing against one of the NFL's worst defenses, the Vikings racked up 384 yards of offense. But for all that moving the ball, Minnesota tallied just one touchdown. The Vikings also turned the ball over twice, including a critical late fumble that allowed Detroit to take a late lead.It marks the second straight week that a Minnesota offense that has no shortage of skill-position talent has failed to amass 20 points. Being shut down by the stout Cleveland Browns is one thing. Struggling to move the ball against the Lions is another.Those offensive issues don't bode well for Minnesota moving forward, The Vikings are headed into a brutal stretch on the schedule. Starting next week in Carolina, the Vikings face five consecutive teams that currently sport a winning record.

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Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: No. 22 (Up 1 spot)

They are 2-3 and barely scraped out a victory over the Lions. The offense has lost its power the past two weeks. That has to change quickly.

Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: No. 25 (Down 2 spots)

When the Lions scored and got the two-point conversion to take a 17-16 lead with less than a minute left, here's what the Vikings were staring down: Blowing a 10-point lead to an 0-4 team at home and losing to fall to 1-4. They were 1-5 at one point last season. It's not crazy to wonder if the Vikings' final drive and game-winning field goal prevented Mike Zimmer from being fired this week. 

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: No. 23 (Up 1 spot)

The Vikings aren't getting many style points for their wins, which look a lot like their close losses. They don't look as put-together as they need to be under Mike Zimmer, still making a wild-card playoff berth a long shot despite the overall talent.

Nate Davis, USA Today: No. 18 (Down 1 spot)

After leaving Minnesota in 2020, four-time Pro Bowl DE Everson Griffen is doing a heckuva job rekindling his career with the Vikes. He doubled his sack total to four Sunday after notching two in his first start of the season.

Mike Florio, PFT: No. 16 (Up 2 spots)

You like that? No. Not really.

Danny Kelly, The Ringer: No. 21 (Down 1 spot)

ESPN Staff: No. 23 (Down 1 spot)

Most improved player: DE Everson Griffen

How they've improved: The Vikings brought back the 33-year-old defensive end, who spent 2010-19 in Minnesota, to be a rotational pass-rusher. Five games into the season, Griffen has played his way into the starting lineup. He has transitioned into a different role, splitting reps between defensive end and three-technique on passing downs. Griffen played a season-high 72% of snaps against Detroit and supplanted D.J. Wonnum in the lineup. With four sacks in five games — after a total of six a year ago with Dallas and Detroit — Griffen has cemented himself as a piece of the Vikings' pass rush that they cannot do without. — Courtney Cronin

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