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Senior NFL Columnist

Power Rankings: Vikings a pleasant surprise; Cowboys, Lions, Saints surprisingly beatable

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When the NFL season started, there were many who put Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier on the hot seat, pegging him as a candidate to be the first coach fired.

Now look.

Frazier's Vikings are 3-1, and happen to be one of the pleasant surprises of the first quarter of the season. The Vikings have worked hard to get to that record, winning their opener against Jacksonville in overtime and getting two special-teams touchdowns to beat the Lions on Sunday. They are doing just enough to find ways to win.

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Minnesota, thanks to an impressive 20-13 victory on the road against the Lions, is up to No. 14 in our CBSSports.com Power Rankings. Considering they started the season at No. 30, that's a heck of a climb.

Frazier is a quiet man in the Tony Dungy mold -- Dungy, in fact, is one of his mentors -- which is why some wonder if he's tough enough to be a head coach. I know too many people in the profession who think otherwise. Frazier is well respected by his peers.

In second-year quarterback Christian Ponder, Frazier has a young passer to build around. As Ponder continues to improve, so will the Vikings. The defense, which entered the season with major questions in the secondary, has played much better than expected. And Adrian Peterson is getting back to his old ways after major knee surgery late last year.

When Minnesota beat the 49ers last week, at a time when the 49ers were considered the NFL's best team, it was considered a bit of fluke. But the tape showed it was no fluke. They handled the 49ers on both sides of the ball. But going to Detroit and winning a division game, plus holding the Lions to 13 points on offense, is telling.

It's too early to say the Vikings will be a playoff team, especially in a division with Green Bay and Chicago, but if you are looking for a coach to be the first one fired, look somewhere else.

Frazier, one of the NFL's nice guys, isn't that guy. In fact, he's an early candidate to be the NFL Coach of the Year.

RANK TEAM MOVE (LW)

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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