The National Football League regular season has hit the quarter poll and we’ve learned some things that seem destined to carry through the rest of the season. First, the Miami Dolphins are no good, and the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots are.
This season, the Chicago Bears are in a prime let down spot coming off a division title following four straight last place finishes. But, while the Bears lost their first two point spread decisions, they have won three games in a row straight-up and have a championship defense. This week, the Bears meet the Oakland Raiders, winners last Sunday and a team that has split their first four decisions straight-up, in London.
The game across the pond is the first of four the league will play in London this season. Next week, the Carolina Panthers will meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and two and three weeks after that the Cincinnati Bengals will meet the Los Angeles Rams and the Houston Texans the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London. The final International game will be played as part of the 11th week when the Kansas City Chiefs meet the Los Angeles Chargers in Mexico City.
Another thing we have learned this year is that Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins still has trouble beating teams with a winning record. The Vikings have easily pushed past the two squads they met this year without a winning mark and Cousins behind center, downing the Atlanta Falcons on opening day, 28-12, and the Raiders two weeks ago, 34-14.
Following those two Minnesota victories, the Vikings lost games to teams with winning records, 21-16 against the Green Bay Packers in second week action and the Bears last Sunday, 16-6. The results against teams with a winning record for Cousins in his NFL career, including games with the Washington Redskins and Vikings, is now five wins and 24 losses.
I thought this would be the year that Cousins slay the dragon of problems against teams with winning records. Knowing he came into the season with only five wins and 22 losses versus teams with winning marks, seemed a great springboard motivationally for him to play well against winning teams with this quality Vikings team to direct.
So far, I was wrong.
Perhaps I was looking at the equation from the wrong side. If Cousins has so much trouble beating teams with winning marks, just how good is he when his opponent is a team with a losing record? Instead of trying to win with Cousins against a good team, why not just back him where he is most proficient, beating bad teams.
He’s done it twice without a loss this year and is now 33-18-2 lifetime against squads without a winning mark.
This week, he leads his Vikings into New York to do battle against the Giants. Behind veteran Eli Manning at quarterback, the Giants lost their first two games and didn’t look good doing it, dropping a decision on opening day to the Dallas Cowboys, 35-17, and coming up short in Manning’s last start against the Buffalo Bills, 28-14.
Head Coach Pat Shurmur then decided the future was now for the Giants and sat the longtime veteran New York signal caller in favor of rookie Daniel Jones.
The man that got booed by Giants fans when they drafted him last April with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, is now the talk of the town and getting rave revues in the Big Apple. Jones has guided New York to wins in both of his starts. Leading a late drive and scoring a touchdown on the Giants last offensive play two weeks ago to down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Florida, and getting cheers from the home fans last Sunday while leading the Giants to a one-sided triumph over the Washington Redskins, 24-3.
The two Jones led wins evens the Giants season record at 2-2, which does not equal a winning mark. Which means this, we’ve got the Vikings coming off a loss and headed into MetLife Stadium needing a win to stay in the thick of the highly competitive NFC North Division race. In other words, Cousins is in the spot where he is most likely to succeed, and the perfect record by Jones is likely to end in front of the same fans that booed him when he was drafted.
Qoxhi Picks: Minnesota Vikings (-5½) over New York Giants