Friday, September 8, 2023

Minnesota Vikings Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2023 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Minnesota Vikings in our consensus 2023 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 15

On the hot seat: QB Kirk Cousins

Cousins is in a contract year for the fourth time in his career but the first since he signed with the Vikings in 2018. The Vikings decided against extending his current deal in March. There is no obvious heir on the roster, but at the very least, 35-year-old Cousins will have to ward off any hints of a physical decline to secure a new deal. On the other hand, a huge season could propel him to a bigger payday in free agency next offseason. -- Kevin Seifert -- Rank: 15

The Vikings won 13 games last season despite being outscored (-3 point differential). Going 11-0 in one-score games explains a lot of that, but it also raises the question of whether the Vikings -- who parted with some key contributors this offseason and are quite young on defense -- can repeat that effort in 2023. They should remain a fairly potent offense this season, but what new defensive coordinator Brian Flores can achieve with a heavily revamped unit could end up determining this team's ceiling. Harrison Smith should make more plays up in the box, and there are some interesting front-seven defenders, but the cornerback position concerns me. It's not hard to imagine a drop in wins, even if the defense improves.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 21

They won a lot of close games last season to make the playoffs, but I don't think they can count on that this time around. I do think Brian Flores is a good hire to run the defense.

USA Today -- Rank: 23

Aside from All-Pro WR Justin Jefferson and, now, newly extended Pro Bowl TE T.J. Hockenson, hard to divine much about where this team is headed beyond this season — one very unlikely to feature as many friendly bounces as the 2022 NFC North champs enjoyed.

The Athletic -- Rank: 17

Best-case scenario: What a difference a coordinator makes, as Brian Flores manufactures a borderline top-10 unit despite the offseason turnover. Marcus Davenport and Byron Murphy Jr. look like shrewd signings. On offense, Jordan Addison has almost as much early success as the last wide receiver drafted by the Vikings in the early 20s, and Alexander Mattison inspires an emergency Lin-Manuel Miranda self-parody musical. Another first-round playoff loss awaits, but by a closer margin this time.

Worst-case scenario: The division passes them by but they remain too competitive to be in position to draft a franchise quarterback in the offseason, while Addison and the young players fail to make an impact.

FOX -- Rank: 15

I'm curious to see what Brian Flores can do in his first season as Vikings defensive coordinator. Even with Dalvin Cook off to New York, I'm not worried about the offensive production — especially with Jordan Addison joining the fold. Defensively, though, the Vikings are asking a lot of a bunch of unproven players. If Flores can coach better production out of this group, the Vikings are a sleeper.

Yahoo! -- Rank: 18

T.J. Hockenson got a new extension, and the Vikings probably overpaid. He got a four-year, $68.5 million contract. Hockenson is good but he's been a tier below the truly elite tight ends. But Hockenson had leverage. The Vikings acquired him (and some mid-round picks) last season in a trade for a second- and third-round pick. Minnesota wasn't going to let Hockenson walk after giving that up. Also, Hockenson was reportedly staging a "hold in," not practicing due to back issues and an ear infection that everyone knew were probably related to the contract. That's how you end up with a contract that resets the market at your position.

PFT -- Rank: 18

The defense can't get much worse. How much better can it be?

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