December 3, 2022

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There is always one NFL team that you’re not quite sure how good they really are or can be, despite having an impressive record.

For me, that team is the 6-1 Minnesota Vikings right now. When I visited the Vikings in training camp this summer, you could tell there was a different feel to the team. The staleness of Mike Zimmer as coach was gone, replaced by a fresh attitude that players said was a nice change under new coach Kevin O’Connell.

The talent was also there for sure. The offense was loaded with playmakers, and the only question really was the same tired one: Can Kirk Cousins make plays in big games in the big moments? That’s still to be answered, but so far the offense has been just fine.

It’s taken the defense a little more time to adjust to the new scheme under coordinator Ed Donatell, but that seems to be coming into shape as well. The pass rush, led by Zadarius Smith, who had three sacks Sunday, is starting to get home and influence opposing quarterbacks.

The Vikings, who are fourth in my Power Rankings this week, haven’t been dominating teams, which is why there are still questions, even though they have won five straight games. Five of their six victories have been one-possession games. Only one has come against a team with a winning record, and that was when they beat the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 when the Dolphins were without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Despite having a stronghold on the NFC North, with the Green Bay Packers second at 3-5, the defense is ranked 28th in yards allowed, which is concerning. The Vikings have made up for it by taking the ball away. They are tied for fourth with Baltimore in takeaways at 1.9 per game.

The schedule toughens up in the coming weeks with a trip to Buffalo and a home game against Dallas coming up after a trip to Washington to play a Commanders team that has won three straight. By Thanksgiving, we will know a lot more about this Vikings team. For now, they just keep winning games — even if some might say they are a fraudulent 6-1.

Biggest Movers

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Teams

 

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1


Eagles

They came off their bye with an impressive beatdown of the Steelers. Jalen Hurts has the offense humming as the team readies for a Thursday night game against the Texans. 7-0-0

2


Bills

They just keep on rolling in all areas of the game. It’s time the defense starts getting its due as much as the offense. 6-1-0

3


Chiefs

They come off their bye with a big AFC game against the Titans at home. They better get ready to tackle Derrick Henry. 5-2-0

4


Vikings

At 6-1, they might not look great all the time but they keep on winning. That’s all that matters. 6-1-0

5


Cowboys

Dak Prescott looked much better in his second game back from injury. The defense, though, let down some against the Bears. 1 6-2-0

6


Titans

They basically have a lock on the division midway through the season. Derrick Henry has done that, and even with Ryan Tannehill out last week, he kept the offense rolling. 2 5-2-0

7


Dolphins

The passing game has been outstanding with Tua Tagovailoa on the field. The track-meet speed receivers make it easy on him. 3 5-3-0

8


Ravens

They dominated the Bucs last Thursday on both sides of the ball to serve notice that they are a real contender. They owned both sides of the line of scrimmage in that game. 3 5-3-0

9


Seahawks

Is it time to believe they have a real shot to be a playoff team? They beat the Giants without a big offensive day, which is a change and a good sign. 3 5-3-0

10


49ers

The team we saw beat up the Rams is a Super Bowl contender. They did it all after falling behind early, which is a sign of a good team. 5 4-4-0

11


Bengals

Adjusting to life without Ja’Marr Chase might be tougher than expected. The offense was disjointed against the Browns. 2 4-4-0

12


Giants

They didn’t look good in losing to the Seahawks, but special teams mostly did them in. They can’t afford the mistakes they had in that game. 7 6-2-0

13


Patriots

It looks like they’ve settled on Mac Jones as their starting quarterback. That’s the way it should be, even if he wasn’t great in the victory over the Jets. 3 4-4-0

14


Jets

The winning streak is over after they lost to the Patriots last week. The offense just didn’t do enough in that game, the first without Breece Hall. 7 5-3-0

15


Chargers

The bye week should have been a time for reflecting on how they’ve limited Justin Herbert way too much. It’s time to set him free. 2 4-3-0

16


Falcons

The first-place Atlanta Falcons. Say it again: The first-place Atlanta Falcons. Amazing. 4 4-4-0

17


Buccaneers

They just don’t look good right now. The offense isn’t good and the defense has struggled. Can they turn it around? 3 3-5-0

18


Commanders

They’ve won three straight games to right things. Taylor Heinicke has played well at quarterback. 12 4-4-0

19


Packers

They are just way too limited on offense. The passing game with Aaron Rodgers is really bad right now. 2 3-5-0

20


Saints

The defense finally showed up this season in beating the Raiders. If the Saints play like that, they can still be a playoff team in a bad division. 1 3-5-0

21


Browns

That was potentially a season-saving victory over the Bengals. The defense finally showed up in a game. 1 3-5-0

22


Colts

They changed quarterbacks, yet got the same results. So maybe it wasn’t Matt Ryan after all. 4 3-4-1

23


Rams

So much for the idea they would come off the bye and turn their season around. They just aren’t good enough this year, which the 49ers loss showed us Sunday. 4 3-4-0

24


Broncos

They found a way to win against the Jaguars as Russell Wilson brought them from behind. That could be what gets him going. 3 3-5-0

25


Cardinals

They are 3-5 and haven’t looked like a team that can gain any consistency. They play a key division game with Seattle this week. 2 3-5-0

26


Raiders

They looked lifeless on offense against the Saints. That’s not a good look for Derek Carr, Devante Adams and gang. 2 2-5-0

27


Steelers

They just aren’t good enough this season. It has to be about the growth of Kenny Pickett the rest of the way. 1 2-6-0

28


Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence has to get it going. He has been disappointing so far, which has hurt this team in their losses. 1 2-6-0

29


Panthers

They found a new way to lose a game against Atlanta, but that’s what bad teams do. The offense has shown some life with P.J. Walker at quarterback. 2 2-6-0

30


Bears

At least the offense is coming alive a little with Justin Fields. That’s the good news. The bad news is they won’t win a lot of games. 5 3-5-0

31


Lions

They can score. But they can’t stop anybody. That’s going to be a season-long issue. 1 1-6-0

32


Texans

They have real issues on offense. It’s looking like they will draft a quarterback next spring. Davis Mills doesn’t look like the answer. 4 1-5-1

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