After three straight solid performances – their first win of the season and a pair of one-point losses to undefeated teams – the Vikings fell back to Earth with an absolute clunker on Sunday. The previously winless Falcons came to U.S. Bank Stadium and thrashed the Vikings on both sides of the ball in a 40-23 victory.
As a result, Minnesota heads to the bye licking its wounds and sporting a 1-5 record. The playoffs are out of reach, and the focus has likely shifted towards figuring out the best ways to set themselves up for contention in 2021.
Like we do every week, let's check in on the national power rankings and see where the Vikings fall. After ranking between 16th and 25th last week, I imagine we'll see some downwards movement.
SI MMQB: No. 26 (Down 10 spots)
The Vikings have mercifully arrived at their bye week at an ugly 1–5, a mark that includes three games they weren’t really in and two soul-crushing one-point losses. Which type of loss would you rather your team suffer? Well, the answer certainly isn’t, “Both!” They need to figure things out right now and save their season in a stretch against all three NFC North rivals right in a row. But it’s hard to have any confidence that one of the league’s most disappointing teams in 2020 can actually pull that off.
ESPN.com: No. 25 (Down 4 spots)
Most impactful injury: DE Danielle Hunter
No question it's Hunter, who suffered a herniated disc in practice on Aug. 14 and hasn't done any football-related activity since. Even though the Vikings were optimistic Hunter's IR stay would be brief, they knew his injury could keep him out six to eight weeks. It led them to trade for Yannick Ngakoue under the guise that they'd have the league's top pass-rushing duo when it was clearly a move pulled off to aid the defensive line while Hunter sat out. The Vikings' defense is dealing with injuries everywhere, but Hunter's is the most significant for a defense that has been historically bad throughout much of 2020.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: No. 26 (Down 2 spots)
The defense isn't good, which puts more pressure on the offense and Kirk Cousins isn't playing well enough for that. It's going to be a long season.
Dan Hanzus, NFL.com: No. 27 (Down 8 spots)
We wondered if the Vikings would get off the mat after that stomach-punch loss to the Seahawks on Sunday night of Week 5. Nope. They barely showed up in Week 6 and limped out of their own building after a 40-23 whipping by the previously winless Falcons. Following the loss, a game in which Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions for the second time in six weeks, the quarterback acknowledged he's playing at a level that could get him benched. It makes you wonder if General Manager Rick Spielman is experiencing buyer's remorse on that two-year extension handed to Cousins back in March. On a bye now, a trip to Lambeau Field in Week 8 looms as a potential knockout punch.
Bleacher Report: No. 26 (Down 6 spots)
So, this is what rock bottom looks like. At 1-5, a Vikings team that entered the 2020 season with Super Bowl aspirations is now all alone in last place in the NFC North. There will undoubtedly be calls for the firing of Head Coach Mike Zimmer as the Vikings head into their bye week. And with a trip to Lambeau Field to play an angry Packers team that has already beaten the Vikings once this year coming up in Week 8, there's little reason to think things are going to improve any time soon.
Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: No. 26 (Down 6 spots)
Well, the Vikings are bad. But we might be watching something special with Justin Jefferson. Heading into Monday's games, he was third in the NFL in receiving yards despite barely playing the first two weeks. Again, why was he playing behind Olabisi Johnson the first two weeks?
Nate Davis, USA Today: No. 26 (Down 4 spots)
I keep coming back to training camp, when S Harrison Smith said, "I guess I've kind of been out of the loop – I didn't know we were supposed to be bad." You should probably stay looped in going forward, Harrison.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: No. 24 (Down 2 spots)
What was that? When Kirk Cousins turns over the ball multiple times and the Vikings dig themselves a big hole, they're not built to get out of it, because they get away from their running game strengths to protect the defense. With the Packers and Bears rolling, the Vikings can stick a fork in their playoff hopes.
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: No. 28 (Down 3 spots)
Kirk Cousins thinks he'll be benched if he keeps throwing interceptions. He'd have to throw a lot of interceptions to be benched for Sean Mannion.
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