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NFL power rankings countdown to training camp: Minnesota Vikings, No. 17

The 2021 NFL training camp is just around the corner. We break down the top 32 teams. Today, we look at the Minnesota Vikings who rank No. 17 in our preseason power rankings.

Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball in the second quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings offense was one of the best in the league in 2020, but a notably bad defense kept them playing from behind most of the season. After starting 1-5 they did go 6-4, but it was too little, too late. They’ll look to improve their defense this season and keep their offense rolling in 2021.

2020 record

7-9, 3rd in NFC North

2020 defense

Points: 29.7 points per game, rank 29th
Yards: 6.1 yards per play, rank 27th (tied with 1 team)
Football Outsiders Ranking: 18th

2020 offense

Points: 26.9 points per game, rank 11th
Yards: 6.2 yards per play, rank 4th
Football Outsiders Ranking: 8th

2021 DraftKings Sportsbook odds

Super Bowl: +4000
AFC/NFC Champion: +1800
DIVISION: +225
Win Total: 9 (Over +110, Under -134)

Offseason moves

The Vikings lost offensive lineman Riley Reiff and safety Anthony Harris, both strong players at their position. They also let tight end Kyle Rudolph walk in free agency along with defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo.

They picked up defensive end Stephen Weatherly from the Panthers and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson from the Giants. They also added to their secondary with Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander and Xavier Woods. And with their first round pick in the draft they took tackle Christian Darrisaw with the 23rd overall pick.

Biggest question entering training camp

The offense should be able to continue putting up numbers with running back Dalvin Cook and wide receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. There’s no doubt that Kirk Cousins does leave fans wanting and it may be tough for him to lead the team over the top teams in the league, but he does help them put up above average offensive stats.

The big question will be if their offseason additions can move the needle on defense. Does Peterson still have shutdown corner ability? Can their additions to the defensive line shore up a shaky unit?

What needs to happen for the Vikings to win the Super Bowl?

To win the big game we’ll of course need to see a big improvement at all spots in the defense, but ultimately it would come down to Cousins elevating the offense to go toe to toe with the best in the league. He hasn’t shown that ability in his career yet.

2021 Outlook

There’s a good chance the Vikings can play better on defense and get back into the playoff hunt this season, but I don’t expect a dominant season. The defense likely didn’t get better in a huge way, while the offense is still missing a stud at quarterback.