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Earlier in the month Sports Illustrated's Peter King raised some eye brows by ranking the Minnesota Vikings number seven in his May Power Rankings. Too soon? Sure, and he admitted that it may be, but with the moves this team has made, they have improved significantly.
Today ESPN released their May edition of NFL Power Rankings and they have the Vikings at number 12, up from finishing the season at 15 last year. Another clear indication that the off season moves the Vikings made have garnered national attention.
At this point I feel Peter King's seven ranking is rather high, but I do feel that ESPN's number 12 is more than appropriate. I do expect this team to move into the top 10 within the first few weeks of the season. The Vikings have improved on both sides of the ball, targeting two areas of need from last year. They made a double move at WR by improving by subtraction (see ya Troy Butterfingers Williamson) and adding a up and coming receiving leader in Bernard Berrian. The two combined should provide more confidence for Tavaris Jackson in his receiving corp.
The other glaring need that was no secret was at defensive end. While Mr. King felt that the Vikings gave up too much for Jared Allen, I feel the deal was needed and will pay dividends for the next several years. He's only 26 and has established himself as one of the past pass rushers in the game today. The Vikings have good talent in their secondary, but the lack of a consistent pass rush allowed for any quarterback to come in and pick them apart.
The Giants proved last year that a solid defensive line with a great pass rush is more than enough to turn the tides as they did the impossible, they beat the undefeated New England Patriots. With a solid defense, great running game thanks to the dynamic duo of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, and a serviceable passing attack, there's no reason to think that the 2008 Vikings can't be a contender.
It may be early to some to start talking about Power Rankings, but the truth is that we are only a couple of months away from training camp! So where do you have the Vikings ranked in Mid-May?