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The Case For and Against Kirk Cousins for 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player… From a Betting Perspective

Cousins' Odds to win the MVP Plummet after Chiefs Loss

As we move past the halfway point in the 2019 NFL season, fans and gurus alike begin to  prognosticate about which players are making the biggest impact for their teams. The most  coveted individual award is of course the Most Valuable Player (MVP) hardware handed out at year’s end.


Most teams have a player or two worthy of MVP mention. In Minnesota, the Vikings might have a
pair of potential candidates. One is running back Dalvin Cook, and the second is quarterback Kirk Cousins. Let’s leave Cook out of the mix and present you a case for and against Cousins as the 2019 NFL MVP.

Cousins was a top-five MVP candidate according to multiple betting sites before the Vikings’ Week 9 game against the Chiefs. He’s now dropped to the average of 10th on those lists, behind Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson (whose odds massively increased after the upset win over the unbeaten Patriots), Aaron Rodgers (whose odds also fell after the Chargers game), Christian McCaffrey, immy Garoppolo, Tom Brady, Drew Brees (somehow),  and Dak Prescott.

However, Cousins was nowhere near this list after the debacle in Chicago, but after a four-week span in which he lit the league on fire he fought his way to the top five. Could a strong finish to the season help him regain lost trust? Let’s find out, because if he could… Now might be the time to place a bet or two on Cousins for MVP.

Case For Kirk Cousins as MVP 

 

Vikings Spot in the Standings

If we take a look back at nothing more than the NFL North Division projections, we see that the Vikings have already leapfrogged themselves into a better spot than many thought before the season started. Sure, the Bears have underwhelmed, but the Vikings truly have played better than some expectations. 

We have to give some credit to the man under center for Minnesota’s midpoint success. At 6-3,  the Vikings look to be in the middle of what appears to be a three or four team race for the wildcard at the very least.  You can see the Vikings movement in the Lineups NFL Power Rankings article.

If not for a week-two defeat at Lambeau against the rival Packers and last weekends three-point loss to the Chiefs, the Vikings would be leading the NFC North. Instead, they await a Monday Night Football rematch the next-to-last game of the regular season.

Kirk Cousins has been meticulous, if not spectacular, in leading his team its current team position in the NFC pecking order. Leading teams to positions higher in the standings than projected is cause for MVP consideration.

Sure, his week 9 performance against the Chiefs hurt his chances, but upon closer inspection that game seemed to be a complete failure in game planning from the brain trust on the sidelines. The Vikings often found themselves in third-and-long situations, which not even Joe Montana in his prime could gun sling his way out of. The good news from a betting perspective is that this makes Cousins a better bet for the prop bet that is him winning the MVP.

Cousins has shown that he’s capable of bouncing back after a bad performance, which makes Sunday Night’s game against the Cowboys in Dallas a HUGE game in terms of the Vikings overall chances and Cousins’ MVP shot.

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Minnesota’s Week-to-Week Consistency 
 
consistency needs to be good, but Cousins has been pretty good from one week to the next. He 

has had the best quarterback numbers in every matchup this season, including both Viking losses (I know some of you are scoffing at that statement, but check his QB rating across each game this season, or his stats in general. They mirrored 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes’ stats pretty closely).

 

Not ironic at all, both of those defeats came on the road in bitter divisional games against the Pack and the Bears. After beating up on the Raiders the week after the tough loss in Green Bay, Cousins started a streak of three plus-300 yard passing games until the Chiefs and the worst game plan since Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn.

 

Minnesota averaged 36-points a game during this three game stretch, albeit against opponents not up to the level of the NFL’s tougher defenses. Still, Cousins looked MVP sharp and maintained a level of consistently star-type performances.

 

Cousins even came close to the 300-yards passing mark in a game clearly marked for a letdown. 

Minnesota navigated the short-week Thursday game by methodically disposing of the undermanned Redskins.

Kirk Cousin’s quarterback play was anything but spectacular, but it was again consistently solid. 

He didn’t manage to toss a TD, but also didn’t throw an interception. Something he has avoided doing in all but
two games this season.
 In spite of no passing scores, Cousins posted a glittering 112.3 quarterback rating in front of  nationally televised audience.

Consistency is always a strong point that separates the MVP contenders from the non contenders. Kirk Cousins has been the model of quarterback consistency, and most of it has been MVP worthy consistency. Say what you will about the Chiefs game, but he still threw for three touchdowns and had a rating of over 90, hardly the disaster people are claiming it is.

 

Case Against Kirk Cousins as MVP 

 
Vikings Fell Short in Big Games 
 
Since consistency is a feather in a player’s cap for MVP consideration, big game accomplishments work against it. Cousins did not play poorly against the Bears and the Packers, but these were huge divisional contests that he
could not will his team to victory.
Also, would the MVP throw that interception on first-and-goal against Green Bay? However, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has thrown similar interceptions this season and in his career, so there’s that to consider.

Cousins posted a woeful pass completion percentage against Green Bay and Kansas City, not all his fault mind 
you, but stats do tell a story. He also tossed a pair of misguided missiles that were snagged by the 
wrong colored jersey.

One of those picks came on a fourth-quarter drive that could have put Minnesota ahead. Cousin’s 
52.9 QBR in that game is a small black mark against his MVP prowess. Against the Bears two weeks after the Packer loss, he connected with his receiving corps better.

However, Cousins didn’t find the end zone. Even a methodical drive late in the game to pull within 10-points, wasn’t enough game heroics to warrant MVP banter. Cousins did not play poorly in these two big games; he just didn’t muster up MVP types of performances. 

 
The MVP Competition 
 
This is probably going to turn out to be the biggest hurdle for Kirk Cousins to overcome. There is a player on his own team that warrants consideration as a most valuable player. Dalvin Cook lead the NFL in rushing yards at the midway point, a stat that always attracts MVP votes.

Touchdowns are another highly prized MVP stat, and Cook lead the NFLafter eight games with nine trips to pay  dirt. Winning success will always play a part in voter’s minds, so Cousins quarterback competition for MVP will probably come from a handful of fellow signal callers.

Russell Wilson and Packer rival Aaron Rodgers are currently sitting statistically ahead of Cousins on the board, and with matching or better won/loss records. As much as his performance  down the stretch will play in Cousins chances at MVP, the strongest roadblock may be the competition from his own teammate.

Kirk Cousins’s resume for MVP is based on a model of consistency. In his second season for the 
Vikings, Cousins has the highest completion percentage of his career thus far, and right at the 
mark for hitting 4,000 yard passing on the season, he also has a touchdown to interception ratio of 16:3.

While his touchdowns are down slightly, his interception numbers are down dramatically. The biggest thing that may play in his favor is how much the Vikings are sticking it to the early season projections of third-place in the division. The biggest thing going against Cousins for MVP may be his own teammate. 
                    
 
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Sam Shefrin

Sam Shefrin likes to write about sports betting and daily fantasy sports. Sam's work has been seen on Lineups.com, DepthCharts.com and Daily Fantasy Cafe. Sam will be looking at the betting side of the Vikings. He was born in Hawaii, but doesn't surf. You can follow him on twitter @samshefrin https://twitter.com/samshefrin

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