Vikings vs. Chiefs: Kirk Cousins is red hot and other things to know

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 20: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings watches the replay during the first quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 20, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 20: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings watches the replay during the first quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 20, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – OCTOBER 24: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings speaks with Brandon Scherff #75 of the Washington Redskins after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 24, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Redskins 19-9. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

This is a sneaky great team

There seems to be this sentiment nationally, as well as in Chiefs Kingdom, that the Minnesota Vikings aren’t an elite team. I heard several fans say before the Packer game that the Chiefs likely won’t beat the Packers with Matt Moore but they should be able to beat the Vikings. Is this true, are the Vikings not an elite team?

No, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Vikings are an elite team, and Super Bowl contender, and I’ll show you why. The Vikings have won six of their first eight games and play in what is arguably the most competitive division in the NFL. They have dominating wins against the Raiders, the Eagles, and the Lions, all three of which will likely be competing for a playoff spot at the end of the year.

Through half the season, their offense is humming from both a basic and an advanced statistical standpoint. According to ESPN, they rank third in total yards per game with 396.5 yards, 10th in points per game with 26.4 points, and are averaging 29.5 points per game against non-divisional opponents. According to Football Outsiders, based off their production and their strength of schedule, they are currently the fifth most efficient offense in the league trailing only the Cowboys, Chiefs, Packers, and Seahawks.

They are no slouch on defense either. Through eight games they are allowing the fifth least yards per game at 313.9 yards, the third least points per game at 16.5 points, and are only allowing 13 points per game to non-divisional opponents. According to Football Outsiders, they are the 10th most efficient defense in the league.

The truth is, this might be the best team the Chiefs have faced so far this season. This will be an incredibly tough test for both the offense and defense for the following reasons.

Kirk Cousins is starting to play like the Vikings had hoped

The Minnesota Vikings had a similar experience in 2017 to the Chiefs in 2018. They had the best defense in yards per game and points, but had an average offense. Ultimately, they couldn’t keep up with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game and their dream season came to an end.

To solve their offensive woes the Vikings were extremely aggressive in free agency and landed the hottest free agent quarterback since Peyton Manning in Kirk Cousins. Cousins signed the first ever fully guaranteed NFL contract that also made him the highest paid player in league history to that point. With that type of contract came expectations, Super Bowl expectations.

Unfortunately for Vikings fans and the team itself, Cousins struggled in his first year with the team. While his overall statistical production was good, he was inconsistent and struggled in some of the Vikings biggest games. Ultimately, the Vikings would miss the playoffs and Cousins would understandably become the scapegoat.

Much to the chagrin of Vikings fans, the 2019 season started out in similar fashion. Through the first four games, Cousins was only averaging 184 yards per game and had only 3 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. Like 2018, he seemed to crumble in the biggest moments which cost the Vikings games against divisional rivals Green Bay and Chicago. There were rumblings of discontent coming from the locker room, alleged trade requests, and many started to wonder if Cousins was the long-term answer for the team.

At least for the moment, Cousins seems to have quieted that discussion pretty decisively. Over the last four games, he has taken his game to another level averaging 315 yards passing per game and throwing for 10 touchdowns to only 1 interception. If he keeps this production up, it may be time to add Cousins name to the MVP discussion. That said, he hasn’t done it all himself. He has a supporting cast of dynamic skill players that will challenge the Chiefs at all levels of the defense.