Show Me The Money: Predicting QB Contract Extensions

Show Me The Money: Predicting QB Contract Extensions
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Analysis

Don’t Blame Kirk Cousins for Vikings’ Playoff Loss vs. Giants

Kirk Cousins ended the Vikings’ season with a turnover on downs after completing a fourth-down pass short of the sticks in the wild-card round against the Giants. Despite the final play, Robert Smith explains why you can’t blame Cousins for Minnesota’s shortcomings.

Betting

NFL Wild Card Betting: Odds, Spreads, Picks, Predictions for Giants vs. Vikings

Giants (9-7-1) at Vikings (13-4)

Opening Spread: Vikings -3

Opening Game Total: 47.5

Opening Team Totals: Vikings (25.25) Giants (22.5)

Weather: Indoors

The Line Report

  • This line opened as Vikings -3
  • This line has moved to Vikings -3.5
  • This total opened at 47.5-points
  • This total has moved to 47.5-points

Notable Injuries

Vikings: Out: RT Brian O’Neill. Questionable: C Garrett Bradbury, Edge Za’Darius Smith, S Harrison Smith.

Giants: Questionable: C Jon Feliciano, DL Leonard Williams, Edge Azeez Ojulari, CB Adoree’ Jackson.

Vikings Offense vs. Giants Defense

The loss of right tackle Brian O’Neill has me pushing the Vikings’ offensive line toward the back end of league average. I have the Giants tiered as a top-10 front with one of the best interior duos in the league. The Giants have a moderate, bordering on significant advantage in the trenches in this matchup. New York’s interior has the potential to be a real problem for Minnesota.

Betting Notes Per TruMedia

  • The Vikings are 7-9-1 against the spread this season
  • Minnesota is 11-6 on overs this season
  • Kirk Cousins is 68-67-2 against the spread in his career
  • Cousins is 80-56-1 on overs in his career
  • Kevin O’Connell is 7-9-1 against the spread in his NFL head coaching career
  • O’Connell is 11-6 on overs in his NFL head coaching career 

Vikings Offense

  • Minnesota scores 24.9 points per game, good for eighth in the league
  • The Vikings are second in the league in yards passing per game and 27th in yards rushing
  • Minnesota passes on 68% of plays and runs on 32% of plays, per Sports Info Solutions
  • Per the Edge, Dalvin Cook is sixth in the league in yards rushing with 1,173, and he’s tied for 12th in rushing touchdowns with eight
  • Justin Jefferson led the league in receptions (128), yards receiving (1,809) and he’s tied for 10th in receiving touchdowns with eight. Jefferson is ninth in the league in target share (28.5%) and 10th in air yards share (38.4%)
  • Adam Thielen finished the season with 70 receptions for 716 yards receiving and six touchdowns with a 17% target share and a 22.8% air yards share
  • KJ Osborn finished the season with 60 receptions for 650 yards receiving and five touchdowns with a 14.2% target share and a 15.3% air yards share
  • Starting in Week 9 while removing the regular season finale, T.J. Hockenson has a 23.5% target share and a 20.6% air yards share as a Viking
  • Per TruMedia, Jefferson has played 774 snaps on the perimeter and 243 in the slot
  • Thielen has played 700 snaps on the perimeter and 288 in the slot
  • Osborn has played 326 snaps on the perimeter and 506 in the slot
  • With the Vikings, Hockenson has played 349 snaps as an inline tight end, 61 on the perimeter and 157 in the slot 

Giants Defense

  • New York has allowed 21.8 points per game, which is 17th in the league
  • The Giants are 13th in the league in sacks, second in forced fumbles and 31st in interceptions
  • Per The Edge, New York has allowed the fourth-most yards rushing per game and the third-fewest yards receiving per game to running backs this season
  • The Giants have given up the 16th-most yards receiving per game to wide receivers this year
  • New York gave up the seventh-most PPR points per game to perimeter receivers
  • The Giants allowed the 10th-most yards receiving per game to tight ends this season
  • New York has allowed the sixth-most PPR points per game to inline tight ends 

Giants Offense vs. Vikings Defense

I have the Giants offensive line tiered as a slightly below-average group. The Vikings’ defensive front has been one of the more unique groups to rank, as they have a top-10 level edge duo with an inconsistent interior. The Vikings’ pass rush has a moderate advantage in this contest, and Dalvin Tomlinson has an advantage in the interior, but this matchup is more of a draw in the run game.

 

Betting Notes Per TruMedia

  • The Giants are 13-4 against the spread this season
  • New York is 7-10 on overs this season
  • Daniel Jones is 31-22 against the spread in his career
  • Jones is 21-30-2 on overs in his career
  • Brian Daboll is 13-4 against the spread in his NFL head coaching career
  • Daboll is 7-10 on overs in his NFL head coaching career

Giants Offense

  • New York scores 21.5 points per game, which is 15th in the league
  • The Giants are 27th in the league in yards passing per game and fourth in yards rushing
  • New York passes on 59% of plays and runs on 41% of plays, per Sports Info Solutions
  • Per the Edge, Jones finished the season with 708 yards rushing, which is fifth among quarterbacks
  • Jones had less than 200 yards passing in 11 of his 16 games this season, but he breached 300 yards passing against the Vikings
  • Saquon Barkley is fourth in the league in yards rushing with 1,312, and he’s 14th among running backs in yards receiving
  • Darius Slayton led the Giants in yards receiving with 724, but he’s had less than 50 in three of his last four games
  • Richie James has at least seven targets and 60 yards receiving in three of his last four games, which includes 90 yards receiving against the Vikings
  • Isaiah Hodgins had eight catches for 89 yards and one touchdown on 12 targets against the Vikings a few weeks ago
  • Daniel Bellinger has 40 or more yards receiving in just two of his 11 games
  • Per TruMedia, Slayton has played 473 snaps on the perimeter and 186 in the slot
  • Hodgins has played 354 snaps on the perimeter and 57 in the slot
  • James has played 85 snaps on the perimeter and 404 in the slot

Vikings Defense

  • Minnesota allowed 25.1 points per game, which is 28th in the league
  • The Vikings are 28th in the league in sacks, 22nd in forced fumbles and 10th in interceptions
  • Per The Edge, Minnesota allowed the 21st-most yards rushing per game and the 10th-most yards receiving per game to running backs this season
  • The Vikings gave up the most yards receiving per game to wide receivers this year
  • Minnesota allowed the sixth-most PPR points per game to perimeter receivers and the second-most to those in the slot
  • The Vikings allowed the 18th-most yards receiving per game to tight ends this season 

 

This Is What You’re Betting On

The Vikings beat the Giants in Minnesota 27-24 in Week 16. The Vikings orchestrated the biggest comeback in NFL history in an overtime win against the Colts the previous week. The Giants are 2-5-1 over their final eight games, while the Vikings are 5-3 over the same span.

If You’re Betting on the Vikings

The Vikings are driven by their talented offense. That group has an above-average quarterback in Cousins, one of the best skill groups in the league and an offensive line that has been solid this year. If you’re betting on Minnesota, you are doing so with the expectation they can have significant success against the Giants in the air and on the ground.

Minnesota’s pass rush could also be a factor in this contest, Tomlinson faces a below-average Giants interior while the Vikings edge rush duo could give rookie right tackle Evan Neal some issues in this contest. Another strong offensive performance paired with the Vikings’ pass rush closing this game out is the type of game flow worth building a Vikings bet around.

You have two core concerns as a Vikings’ bettor. The first is the strength of the Giants’ defense. The loss of O’Neill reduces Minnesota’s ability to manage the Giants’ strength on defense. The second concern is the Vikings’ secondary has been routinely shredded this season, which includes Jones breaching 300 yards passing against them just a few weeks ago. If the Giants’ defensive front takes over this matchup while their offense has another solid showing, Minnesota can lose this game.

>> Read: Kirk Cousins Can Change Playoff Narrative

If You’re Betting on the Giants

A Giants bet is built on two core concepts. The first is their defensive front is a talented group capable of taking over a game. New York’s best chance of limiting Minnesota’s talented offense is through consistent disruption in the trenches. If New York pairs that with a strong running game between Barkley and Jones, while Jones has another above-average game as a passer, the Giants can win this game outright.

Most of the Giants’ wins this season have been driven by their defense, while their offense doesn’t turn the ball over. That gameplan doesn’t leave much room for error, which is among the reasons New York only beat two teams above .500 this season. The Giants have received a lot of hype since their blowout victory against the 4-12-1 Colts in Week 17. While the Giants have overachieved this season, I do wonder how many football enthusiasts realize New York finished significantly below .500 in the second half of the season.

One of your biggest concerns as a Giants bettor is New York’s losing ways in the second half of the season. Minnesota’s secondary is its most exploitable weakness. Even though Jones had success through the air against Minnesota a few weeks ago, it’s important to keep in mind the Giants still have one of the most limited groups of pass catchers in the league, and Jones is a better runner than a passer. Your other concern as Giants’ bettor is their ability to cover the Vikings’ talented skill group, especially Jefferson. Even if New York effectively mitigates Jefferson, both Cook and Hockenson have plus matchups in this contest.

Score Prediction: Vikings 27 Giants 20

Ryan’s Recent Betting Record:

ATS 2021: 49-31

ATS 2022: 48-32

Props 2022: 57-40

WATCH: NFC Playoffs Betting Preview

 

Analysis

Vikings’ Cousins Has Chance to Change Playoff Narrative vs. Giants

I’ve been looking at the collection of quarterbacks playing on Super Wild Card Weekend — specifically the difference between those in the AFC and NFC — and I’m drawn to the contrast. 

While uncertainty exists with Tua Tagovailoa being ruled out and Lamar Jackson‘s status up in the air, the AFC group is dominated by young first-round picks. Trevor Lawrence vs. Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow and Josh Allen both starting at home, and Patrick Mahomes awaits in the divisional round. Blue-blood quarterbacks doing what they were drafted to do for the teams that originally drafted them. 

Then, there’s the NFC. 

It’s an unlikely group that includes Tom Brady as the headliner, Daniel Jones as the lone first-round pick and four others who aren’t supposed to be here. 

That’s just the start. The context of each one’s story makes it even better and frames the feeling around each one’s challenge. You have three quarterbacks whose seasons have already been individual “wins,” no matter their team’s result this weekend: Brock Purdy, Geno Smith and Jones.

Purdy’s and Smith’s success have been way beyond what anyone expected, and Jones has played well enough — and meshed with new coach Brian Daboll — to likely earn the team’s belief and another contract. All three are playing with house money. Now we get to sit back and see which one(s) will double down and let it ride.

Brady and Dak Prescott are each their own form of an enigma. Would you be surprised by any of the range of possibilities they could produce on Monday night? Me neither. It’ll be wonderful quarterback theater, no matter the outcome. 

Then, there’s the quarterback whose reputation has the most to gain, and likewise, the most to lose. I find Kirk Cousins‘ weekend to have more intrigue and meaning than any of the others playing in the NFC. 

Without a January win or two, his season won’t be called a success, and his future will be called into question.

His age and experience are a factor. He’s 34 years old and the second decade of his career is well under way. The real attraction to his performance against the Giants revolves around the lingering question that won’t go away until he and the Vikings have postseason success: Haven’t we seen this before?

Cousins stacking good-to-great numbers throughout a regular season where the Vikings win more than they lose is something we’ve seen before. But we haven’t seen it lead to playoff success. That’s why he is being patted on the back instead of truly believed in. It’s like he’s been given partial credit for what most fans have deemed to be a series of 17 pop quizzes amounting to 10 percent of his grade, with Sunday’s test counting for the other 90 percent.

Right or wrong, Sunday is his best chance to change the narrative. Because even though the Vikings have an impressive 13-4 record, they aren’t built to win without big production from their quarterback. Cousins won’t just be “along for the ride” of a playoff win or two. He’ll have to be at the wheel with his foot on the gas, white-knuckling for most of the ride.

The Giants aren’t a high-scoring machine, but keep in mind Minnesota produced the worst rushing offense of all the NFC playoff teams, and their defense gave up more points than any playoff team in either conference. If their run game and scoring defense follow suit on Sunday, Cousins will need to be the best part of the team to land a Vikings win. 

In addition to Minnesota’s own shortcomings, the Giants aggressive defense needs to be considered as well. They had the highest blitz rate of any defense during the regular season at 43 percent, per PFF. So, let’s say the Vikings’ run game and scoring defense produce in a similar way to the regular season, and the Giants blitz as frequently as they did in qualifying for the playoffs. In that scenario, Cousins will need to be the best part of the team for the Vikings to win.

It’s not a great formula for a deep playoff run, but it’s a recipe for a quarterback to stand out.

The spectacle of improbable comeback wins against Buffalo and Indianapolis are the poster games of Minnesota’s 13-win season. But along the way, Cousins played a brand of efficient and explosive ball, throwing for more yards than every NFC quarterback besides Brady, without throwing a single interception in the majority of Minnesota’s games. And the way the Vikings learned to win is conducive to performing under playoff pressure, as they went 11-0 in one-score games. The season has prepared Cousins for Sunday’s stage.

If the game plays out the way many of the Vikings’ regular-season games did, the onus will be directly on Cousins. Which is exactly what he needs to move the needle of his playoff perception. 

WATCH: Giants’ Winning Blueprint vs. Vikings 

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