A weekly examination of the Vikings’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 17 | Last Week: 26 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Vikings don't get much of a bump this week after hanging on to beat the No. 29 Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, but they left London feeling much better about themselves following their first win of the season. It was the first time the Vikings -- who didn't win a game in which they lost the turnover battle last year -- didn't give the ball away, and Matt Cassel passed for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns in relief of Christian Ponder, who missed the game with a rib injury.
The Vikings' quarterback situation will be the hot topic during and after their bye week, with Cassel having posted a passer rating Sunday that was higher than any single-game rating Ponder has posted in his career. The Vikings might feel beholden to Ponder, whom they took 12th overall in the 2011 draft, but they need to take advantage of a schedule stretch that all of a sudden looks soft if they want to turn their season around. The Vikings' next five opponents -- Carolina, the New York Giants, Green Bay, Dallas and Washington -- have a combined 5-13 record this season. That group includes two of the past three NFC champions and two division winners from 2012, but if the Vikings can get themselves on track in time to catch those teams while they're reeling, they might be able to edge back into the playoff race in what has so far been a mediocre conference.