As lists and rankings have become standard offseason content (and click generators) in various sports, I’ve become more wary of what they tell us — or at least of what a single list tells us.
Any potential value, as I’ve referenced before, comes in the aggregation. Is there a general consensus that multiple flavors of the same kind of ranking can tell us? And if not, does that lack of consensus tell us anything?
In that sense, I’m more interested in this year’s offseason NFL power rankings than I maybe ought to be. Because in collecting them over the course of the last couple weeks post-draft, a theme seems to be emerging when it comes to the Vikings. That theme: There are a lot of different opinions about how they will fare next season and not much of a consensus other than “not elite, but not terrible.”
Let’s take a quick look through them from best to worst:
*Peter King from NBC’s “Football Morning in America” offers the most optimistic view, putting the Vikings at No. 10 in his rankings. Writes King: “The Vikings, as it turned out, needed to win three of their five December games to make the playoffs. They won two. In the three losses, they fell behind New England 10-0, Seattle 21-0 and Chicago 13-0 … and Kirk Cousins led three touchdown drives in 32 total possessions in those games. Put simply, he’s got to play better in the big spot to justify $84 million guaranteed in three years. There’s nothing particularly analytical or deep about that, but it is the truth.”
*ESPN has the Vikings No. 11 in its Football Power Index rankings, projecting them for 8.5 wins (pretty much exactly what they had last year in going 8-7-1) while having a 44.8 percent chance of making the playoffs.
*NFL.com? Elliot Harrison has the Vikings at No. 12, writing: “Still think Minnesota can be a playoff team, but Garrett Bradbury must step in and play like a vet opening week.”
*If we stopped there, we’d have a pretty neat consensus. But … Sporting News as the Vikings down at No. 17, noting not only that the offense needs to pick things up but that the defense isn’t getting any younger.
*And the real eye-opener comes from CBS’ Pete Prisco, who has the Vikings No. 20 (and the Packers No. 2).
All of them mention Cousins as a major key, which is accurate. Maybe it’s as simple as this: If you think Cousins is the 10th-best QB, you put the Vikings No. 10. If you think he’s the 20th-best QB, you put them 20th.