Kirk Cousins struggles in prime time and against winning teams is one of the most well documented stat of all time, at least in these parts. “Luckily” for him, four out of the Vikings next six games are against teams with winning records in prime time (assuming the Chargers continue winning). On top of that, only one of those prime time games are at home.
He will have to challenge the Cowboys, Seahawks, and Chargers all in hostile territories. Unfortunately for the Vikings, if they want to make the playoffs Kirk Cousins is going to have to change that narrative, starting with Sunday’s game with the Cowboys.
Losing three of these games will likely knock the Vikings out of the playoffs, and splitting wins will still make it difficult to secure the 6th seed. If Cousins wants to be the savior fans hoped he could be, he will need to win at least three of these games to help secure a postseason spot for Minnesota (and maybe even the third seed).
The alternative, though, would be devastating for this team from top to bottom. The Vikings have arguably never been more all in on a roster than they are right now. That’s due to the Wilf family spending whatever money general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer ask for. They’ve had carte blanche to sign or re-sign players, and Zimmer has used most drafts to assemble a defensive core that, on paper, is the best in the NFL.
The other side of the ball is pretty stacked as well. Sure, the defense has been the focus, with the secondary (for example) having three first round picks and a second rounder between Rhodes, Waynes, Hughes and Alexander. But they’ve built the offense differently, in that they’ve either spent late round picks on receivers, or free agent money on the offensive lineman they didn’t invest in through the draft.
The biggest spend in team (and at the time NFL) history was obviously The free agent signing of Cousins. He was thought to be the man who’d bring the Vikings over the hump they crashed into (at 100 mph) in the 2017 NFC Championship Game. So, the time has come for Cousins to step into that role of savior.
The final seven games are filled with potential playoff opponents, teams with winning records and prime time games. As the title of this piece implies, perhaps a trial by fire is what Cousins needs, because either way he’s gonna get it.
If not, it could spell the end of more than one tenure in Minnesota.