The Minnesota Vikings will make the trek to the West Coast as they square off with the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15. All eyes will be on Kirk Cousins to see how the Vikings’ quarterback performs in this game.
If the playoffs were to end today, Minnesota would be the No. 6 seed in the NFC. But since the season isn’t over just yet, the Vikings need this game to maintain their lead for the final Wild Card spot ahead of the Los Angeles Rams.
Through the first 14 weeks, Cousins has played well after a rough start to the season. The veteran quarterback has totaled 3,274 yards, 24 touchdowns, and only four interceptions thus far.
Furthermore, since Week 6, Cousins has been nearly perfect for the Vikings. In that span, he has completed nearly 71 percent of his passes for 2,232 yards, 19 touchdowns, and two interceptions.
The Vikings are going to need their handsomely-paid quarterback to continue his high level of play on Sunday. Provided that, here are a couple of reasons why Cousins is in line for a massive performance against the Chargers.
The Chargers struggle to stop the run
Despite the Chargers having a disappointing season, they have been underrated on defense. While having the fourth-best pass defense, Los Angeles also has the 17th ranked run defense in the NFL.
So how does this help Cousins and his ability to have success through the air? Minnesota’s offense is predicated on being able to run play-action passes effectively.
As some may know, play-action passes can be lethal without the running game being a factor at all. But the Vikings’ play-action plays can be even more deadly when Dalvin Cook is in a rhythm on the ground.
Cook should be able to get going early against a Chargers’ defense that allows 108.2 rushing yards per game. That will allow Cousins to have more room to throw the ball once Minnesota decides to fake the handoff.
Adam Thielen is coming back
Over the past two months, Cousins has been playing at an impressive level from under center. In Minnesota’s past four games, the Vikings’ quarterback hasn’t had Adam Thielen as an option at wide receiver.
After missing time due to a hamstring injury, Thielen is expected to return on Sunday versus the Chargers. This is great news for Cousins and the other skill players on the Vikings.
Without Thielen, the Vikings still have Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith, and even Cook as targets in the aerial attack. However, when Thielen is lined up on the outside, it opens everything up for everyone in the offense.
In addition, it gives Cousins another reliable pass-catcher to pick apart the Chargers’ secondary.