You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it. Kirk Cousins sucks in primetime games. Right?
It’s one of those modern NFL truisms that gets repeated by both “First Take” fanatics and NFL betting experts.
But rather than trust the words of the human head making noises on my television screen, I decided to actually dig into the numbers and see what they say.
Kirk Cousins Primetime Record
Per Bet Labs, the Vikings are 7-11 straight up (9-9 ATS) in primetime regular-season games since Kirk Cousins signed with Minnesota in 2018.
However, one of those games – played against Green Bay in Week 17 of the 2021 season – doesn’t go on Cousins’ tab. He was hurt, and so backup quarterback Sean Mannion got his third career NFL start. The Vikings lost 37-10, and the Packers clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
That means that Cousins is 7-10 straight up (9-8) in primetime Vikings games.
Prior to his move to Minnesota, Cousins was 4-7 ATS in 11 primetime games as the quarterback of the Washington Redskins.
NFL Week 7 Odds: Vikings vs. 49ers (-7)
Kirk Cousins’ next game in primetime is Monday night, Week 7. The Vikings are 7-point underdogs against San Francisco, who just lost their first game of the season against the Browns.
NFL Betting Is Shaped By Narrative
A 9-8 ATS record is nothing to get terribly excited about for Cousins and the Vikings. And a 7-10 (41.2%) straight-up record is noticeably worse than the Vikings’ overall 46-36 (56.1%) record during the same five-year timespan.
Still, I’m not sure the numbers here match the level of hate that Cousins catches for his primetime performances.
For one thing, many of Cousins’ worst losses come at the hands of Green Bay, which has been the more explosive team for most of Cousins’ time in the division.
Wouldn’t lots of quarterbacks have a losing record against the Packers over this time period?
Wouldn’t they also have a losing record in high-profile games if they were dropped onto the Redskins’ roster from 2015-17?
I’m not sure Cousins is as bad as we all seem to collectively think he is. I suspect the 9-8 ATS record tells the most accurate story. He’s a slightly above-average quarterback on a decent team. A .500 market record sounds about right.
Sports betting is particularly susceptible to narrative forces because of how sports conversations impact average betting appetites. This is yet another example of a time where going against the alleged wisdom of the day might actually yield surprising returns, given the right situation.
If anything, there could be a little bit of room to bet Minnesota in these primetime games and find some value – as long as Cousins isn’t facing off against Aaron Rodgers again, anyway.
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