Vikings Make Massive Jump in NFL Power Rankings After Surprise Season Debut

Getty Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates on the field after defeating the Green Bay Packers 23-7 at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

While the Minnesota Vikings‘ 23-7 victory over the Green Bay Packers was unexpected amid the changes facing the organization, many NFL observers haven’t taken the victory lightly.

The Vikings’ roster, which has underperformed over the past two seasons, realized their potential with an all-round performance. Kirk Cousins led the offense to nearly 400 net yards from scrimmage, while the defense held Aaron Rodgers without a touchdown  — a feat accomplished just one other time by Minnesota’s defense since 2010.

Not to mention Justin Jefferson reset a career-high in receiving yards (186) and found the end zone twice.

The Vikings rose to expectations in Week 1, and in turn, made a massive leap in Heavy senior NFL reporter Matt Lombardo’s power rankings.

Vikings Rank No. 4 in Heavy NFL Power Rankings

In Lombardo’s Heavy in the Trenches weekly column, the NFL insider listed his top-10 power rankings and slotted the Vikings in at No. 4.

Minnesota’s season-opening victory didn’t come as a shocker to Lombardo, who spoke with an NFL player in the preseason who believes the Vikings could surprise the three-time defending division champion Packers in the NFC North title chase.

From Lombardo:

Boasting a roster that includes playmakers such as wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who finished as the NFL’s fourth-leading receiver in 2021, Adam Thielen, and running back Dalvin Cook, it’s easy to see why Minnesota turned the page from the defensive-minded Zimmer to a dynamic young play-caller in Kevin O’Connell as its new head coach…

“I really like Minnesota a lot and think they could surprise some people this year,” an offensive player in the NFC South told Lombardo in the preseason. “The Vikings were really solid last year, and I like their new additions both on the coaching staff and the roster.

“With Smith and Hicks, it gives Kendricks two reliable players in the middle of that defense,” the NFC South player said. “It’s going to be a completely new scheme for the Vikings.”

Minnesota made the largest jump in power rankings across the NFL landscape, climbing an average of 10 spots, according to EDS Football. The Vikings’ average ranking is 9.5, which is the eighth-highest average in the league and tied with the Packers, who slid from the No. 5 spot after Week 1.

Despite the Vikings turning some NFL observers into believers, there is still a large discrepancy. The Athletic ranked Minnesota No. 5 in its Week 2 power rankings, while Pro Football Talk has the Vikings ranked 18th.

A primetime matchup in Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football will offer another opportunity for the Vikings to prove their mettle.

Vikings Open Up as Underdogs to Eagles on Monday Night Football

For a second consecutive week to start the 2022 season, the Vikings are considered slight underdogs for Monday’s matchup.

Minnesota opens the week as a 1.5-point underdog to the Eagles, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Packers held the same margin over the Vikings entering Week 1, however, Philadelphia wasn’t given the typical 3-point favoritism awarded to home teams.

The Eagles are coming off a 38-35 win over the Detroit Lions. The Eagles carried a 17-point lead entering the final quarter, and despite allowing the Lions to claw themselves back into the game, persevered with a clock-chewing drive to clinch the game.

It’ll serve as another opportunity to exact revenge for players who made the 2017 NFC title game and also a recent arrival in wide receiver and punt return man Jalen Reagor, who was traded before the start of the season.

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