Bill Belichick, the Kirk Cousins Curse, and Other NFL Hot Takes

Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

While the Midwest struggles to thaw out from bitterly cold conditions that left many of us looking like Jack Nicholson freezing to death at the end of “The Shining”, there’s one thing that keeps us warm on the inside: NFL football.

I guess maybe family and puppies and new love and fire in the fireplace and a good pasta dinner can each do that too, but I think you know what I’m getting at. With the Vikings season now in the books, it’s time to think more globally about the goings-on of not just our beloved Purple, but the league at large. So, to keep our blood pumping and delivering oxygen to our football-obsessed brains, I bring you another edition of Tom’s Hot Takes, featuring Bill Belichick, Jason Kelce, Taylor Swift, Kirk Cousins and more.

News From the NFL Coaching Carousel

Kirk Cousins
Jan 8, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines in the second quarter game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

ITEM: Bill Belichick Out in New England

HOT TAKE: Unless he’s your team’s coach, the kind of success Belichick had in New England is boring. And if his success alone hasn’t bored you to tears, have you listened to him talk? As a Giants assistant coach his players nicknamed him “Captain Sominex” for his lack of verve or personality.

We’ve all looked at the playoff brackets and thought to ourselves “Dear God, please, just make it anyone but the Patriots in the Super Bowl”. His level of excellence as New England’s Head Coach was off-the-charts impressive, and off-the-charts dull to the point of nausea. 24 years. 17 division titles. 9 Conference Championships. 6 Super Bowl Victories. Viking fans, do we need someone that successful coaching in the NFL? No, we do not.

I’d like to say congratulations to the Coach and wish him luck and happiness in his retirement years, but unfortunately the 71-year-old Belichick is not going away so easily. Reports have him in the running for the Atlanta Falcons head coaching job, which is bad enough, but his primary competition appears to be the even-more-annoying Jim Harbaugh. While I’d hate to see Belichick come to the NFC, it may actually save us from a far-worse fate: having Captain Sominex join a major network’s NFL sports coverage as a commentator.

ITEM: Jim Harbaugh Considered for Several NFL Head Coach Openings

HOT TAKE: At least Belichick is just boring——Harbaugh is fingers-on-the-chalkboard grating. His bluster, his arrogance, his ego—all have been on display for years but I’m sure will climb to new heights now that he has delivered an NCAA Championship to the University of Michigan and has been basking in the glow of that success, combined with having high-ranking NFL executives crawling all over each other for the chance to consider him for head coaching vacancies.

Worst-case scenario, Belichick could secure the Falcons job and Harbaugh could still return to the NFL, having already interviewed with the Chargers in addition to the Falcons job, and rumors have him being wooed by Las Vegas and Washington as well. After his fall cheating scandal and subsequent non-punishment (besides a brief vacation) it’s becoming harder and harder not to notice the alarming similarities between him and Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Except that Harbaugh’s much younger so we’ll have to tolerate him for a much longer period of time.

I would love nothing more than to see Harbaugh repeatedly interviewed and rejected—as our Vikings did to him two years ago before hiring Kevin O’Connell—but alas, the writing is on the wall. 2024 could easily bring both Belichick and Harbaugh to the National Football Conference, where it will be very hard to ignore either one.

One Door Opens, Another Closes….Or, Does It?

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) raises his arms as the Lions beat the L.A. Rams, 24-23 in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, January 14, 2023.

ITEM: Lions Gain First Playoff Win in 30 Years

HOT TAKE: Detroit (12-5) came into last week’s Wild Card Weekend playoff game as 3-point favorites against the 10-7 Rams, but a good share of football fans (and I’ll wager an even bigger share of Detroit fans) didn’t really expect the Lions to post the win.

The Rams were just two years removed from their 2021 Super Bowl win, and the Lions were, well, you know, the Lions. We here in Minnesota ought to know just what they were feeling, although we’ve at least seen the Vikings win a playoff game or two over the last 30 years. But when they’ve advanced to the NFC Championship Game in recent years (2009, 2017) did any of us truly expect the Vikings to win? Sure, we hoped, we prayed, we got down on our knees and prayed to Bud Grant’s still-animated soul, but did we expect? Nope.

And that’s why I think Lions fans got the pleasant surprise of their lives last Sunday. The victory exceeded their wildest expectations. Will those fans get greedy and start to expect? Setting themselves up for the kind of disappointment that some of us felt 25 years ago after the Gary Andersen Game–the last time I remember actually expecting the Vikings to win a Conference Championship?

They just might: they’re 6.5-point home favorites against a very mediocre Tampa Bay club. Which only means the stakes—and the disappointment—could get even higher and more intense if Detroit advances to this year’s Conference Championship Game. Godspeed, Lions fans. Godspeed.

3 Scoops of Kirk Cousins Buzz

Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

ITEM: We Can Never Stop Talking About Kirk Cousins

HOT TAKE: Kirk has been all over the news in the aftermath of the regular season. The should-they-or-shouldn’t-they re-sign their leader story (they should) will be with us until the day his signature has dried.

Then there is this: according to KARE-11 News, Cousins visited Antigua last week, to receive stem cell treatment. Not approved by the FDA but recommended by a member of his medical team, Kirk made the supreme sacrifice in the name of his Achilles health and football future by slogging down (ostensibly with his family) to the Caribbean Islands, one of the most beautiful vacation spots on earth, to receive treatment. Can there be any doubt that this guy is serious about coming back healthy in 2024? Selfless.  

And, there’s this: Sports Illustrated reports something quite compelling: it’s called the Kirk Cousins Curse. No, this isn’t about a curse on the teams who have signed Cousins to large contracts. It’s something a little more fun (as long as your team isn’t directly involved): in his 11 years in the NFL, no team has lost to Kirk Cousins and played in the Super Bowl in the same season. Bam! There’s a curse for you.

This isn’t just a random sampling of three or four games, this is eleven years data collected across 64 teams who lost to Cousins and then fell short of the Super Bowl goal, as well as his 0-10 record against teams who actually did make it to the Super Bowl. None of the remaining AFC competitors faced Cousins this season. This curse therefore means that the 49ers and the Packers are both screwed, having lost to Cousins and the Vikings earlier this season. They play each other on Saturday, so the winner will obviously fall to the winner of the Lions-Buccaneers game in the NFC Championship Game. Right? It’s preordained.

Predictions You Can Take To Vegas

Dec 3, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) walks off the field after win against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

ITEM: The NFL Playoffs Are Going On, Without the Vikings

HOT TAKE: You need to know who the winners will be, and I’m here to tell you, just in case you decide to head down to Vegas this week and camp out in one of the Sports Books for the next three weeks while the preseason plays its way out. Please note, this is being written the Thursday prior to this weekend’s Divisional Round games, in case you read this later and come away skeptical about how legit these incredibly accurate predictions will prove to be. But I admit, I do feel like it’s cheating because the Kirk Cousins Curse makes selecting the NFC playoff victors such an easy exercise. But here goes—first, the NFC:  

  • Green Bay at San Francisco (Saturday): the 49ers will end the Packers’ Cinderella Story this weekend, but the NFC North will still be represented in the Championship Game nonetheless….
  • Tampa Bay at Detroit (Sunday): Detroit will win big.
  • NFC Championship Game (Next Weekend): The Curse has already told us that Detroit will become the even bigger Cinderella Story, by advancing to the Big Dance with an overtime victory over San Francisco.  

In the AFC:

  • Houston at Baltimore (Saturday): The Ravens will take care of business and stop the red-hot Texans on Saturday
  • Kansas City at Buffalo (Sunday): The Chiefs will continue making people forget how mediocre they looked most of the season by reaching the AFC Championship Game for the sixth year in a row. However, that’s as far as they’ll go.
  • AFC Championship Game (Next Weekend):  Lamar Jackson and company will handily win the decider and head to Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII.

And finally, the Super Bowl:

  • Super Bowl LVIII (February 11): Baltimore Ravens 42, Detroit Lions. 24.

You heard it here first, folks.