Kirk Cousins has endured an inconsistent start to the 2019 NFL season with the Minnesota Vikings. The 31-year-old has not quite lived up to expectations after signing a huge contract with the team in 2018.
Cousins’ form was up and down during his first campaign with the team, while he came under fire for his performances during the early stages of the current season – notably the 16-6 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bears.
However, Cousins has shown signs over the past two weeks of breaking out into his peak form against the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles, throwing for a combined six touchdowns. It was important for the quarterback to find his rhythm, especially with wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs was reportedly unhappy with his role in the team and sat out a period of practices due to his frustration with the performances of the offense.
Cousins ensured that one of his top targets was appreciated against the Eagles. Diggs notched three touchdowns and 167 yards in the victory as he tormented cornerback Rasul Douglas. With Diggs and Adam Thielen operating at the peak of their powers, Minnesota have one of the best wide receiver tandems in the NFL. Cousins has not always managed to rise to the occasion under pressure even with top talent in his receiving corps.
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However, he did prove a point to his doubters, including former Eagles linebacker Zach Brown who was cut after his display against the Vikings, that he can produce quality performances under the spotlight. The challenge now for the 31-year-old is becoming a consistent operator on a weekly basis and the next game against the Detroit Lions, who have a solid defense.
Cousins has to produce as his side are slight underdogs going into the contest, but given the quality of the defense and the improvement of the quarterback, it would be wise to take the Vikings in the NFL picks for the NFC North contest. Beating the Lions would put Minnesota on pace for winning the division, although they appear to be heading to a battle throughout the term with the Green Bay Packers for the automatic playoff spot.
Minnesota have not always lived up to their potential under head coach Mike Zimmer. Their roster has been stacked with talent for at least five years, but they have failed to reach the Super Bowl – losing in the NFC Championship Game in the 2017 campaign. The 2018 term was one of the most frustrating seasons as they failed to reach the post-season, despite believing the addition of Cousins would take them to the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The defense has been a stout unit for a number of years and has been waiting for the offense to complement their standard of performance. If Cousins has finally found his form and maintains it over the course of the campaign then the Vikings’ long wait for an appearance in the Super Bowl and a victory could be at an end. It all rests on his shoulders, and the next few games will determine where they are heading in the 2019 season.