We should all be taking Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings seriously

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings are now 5-2 and in control of their destiny in the NFC playoff race after defeating the rival Detroit Lions in Week 7 by the score of 42-30.

Kirk Cousins has made an impressive turnaround over the last few weeks. After being highlighted as the weak link for the Minnesota Vikings, Cousins has delivered three straight strong performances under center, racking up passing yards and touchdowns at an alarming rate. He’s been criticized for not making the most out of his weapons, specifically elite wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, and he’s out to prove he’s worth his hefty contract.

In Week 7, Cousins showed he can dissect a strong team, torching the Detroit Lions defense for 271 yards and four more touchdowns with no interceptions on a 23-33 line. It was a near-perfect performance from Cousins, who overcame an early injury to star receiver Thielen on a highlight-reel touchdown grab.

Cousins made the most of his tight ends in this game, using veteran Kyle Rudolph and high-upside rookie Irv Smith Jr. to supplement his targets to Diggs. But the real star of the show on the Vikings offense was Dalvin Cook, who is the team’s X-Factor. When Cook gets going as he did against Detroit with over 130 rushing yards, then the Vikings are almost guaranteed to get a win.

This victory over the Lions means the Vikings join the Packers, 49ers, Seahawks, and Saints as NFC teams with at least five wins. That’s excellent company to be in, as one of those teams was a blown call away from the Super Bowl and the others either have the league’s best defense or an MVP-caliber quarterback.

While the Vikings don’t have an MVP-caliber quarterback nor did they even make the playoffs last season, they do have a quarterback who is putting up monster numbers lately. Cousins is streaky, but if the Vikings can harness Cousins’ best this season, then the motivated passer can do enough to make this team dangerous in January.

Next: Are the 49ers the best team in the NFL?

And even though it didn’t seem like it on Sunday against the Lions, the Vikings real strength lies in a deep defense filled with extremely athletic playmakers. Before Week 7, they were sixth in the NFL in points per game allowed and in the top five in net yards per pass attempt allowed. If the Vikings can generate more turnovers, they just might have a defense that can rival any other unit in the NFL.

The Vikings have always had the potential to be a Super Bowl contender, and it looks like the pieces may be coming into place this season. It’s unclear if they have the right quarterback to beat the likes of Seattle and New Orleans when the chips are all down, but, as of right now, the 5-2 Vikings look like a dangerous team none of those other NFC contenders would want to face in the postseason. They look like a dark horse Super Bowl pick this season.

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