Saturday will kick off the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, and one of those games features the best team in the NFC. San Francisco clinched the top seed in the conference and home-field advantage with a record of 13-3.
Heading to California to take on the 49ers will be Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings. Cousins and company beat the New Orleans Saints on the road in the Wild Card round in a thriller of a game on Sunday.
Niners Championship Caliber?
Depending on where you look, the 49ers are either the second or third favorite to win the Super Bowl. That is after the Ravens and Chiefs, depending on where you look, but everywhere they are the favorite to come out of the NFC.
That’s because they have been the best team in the conference and have one of the most complete teams in the league.
Jimmy Garoppolo had a terrific season in leading this offense after coming off an ACL tear in 2018. He passed for nearly 4,000 yards with 27 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions.
He found solace in throwing to his Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle, who ended the season with 85 catches despite playing in only 14 games. He also led the team in touchdown catches with five.
Speaking of pass catchers, rookie Deebo Samuel had a good first season, catching 57 balls for over 800 yards and three scores.
Captain Kirk Finally Gets It Done
You would be hard-pressed to find a player scrutinized despite having good seasons more than Cousins. He threw for 4,000 yards three straight years, and the Redskins kicked him to the curb.
Everyone in the world knows about Cousins’ record in Monday Night and primetime games. The Vikings didn’t beat a winning team on the road all year. The narrative has always been that Cousins can’t win the big game.
That all changed Sunday. Cousins went on the road to one of the toughest places in the NFL to play and came out victorious. Cousins was effective, completing 61.3 percent of his passes for 242 yards and a score.
The hard carry for the Vikings came from running back Dalvin Cook. In his first game returning from injury, Cook carried the ball 28 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught three balls for 36 more yards.
Even with the win last week, the Vikings are still heavy underdogs on the road this week. Minnesota is -7 heading to San Francisco with the over/under being set at 45.5.
Vegas must think this game is going to be a defensive battle as this game is the lowest over/under of any game on the slate. The Vikings are 10-7 against the spread this year with 10 games hitting the over. The 49ers are 10-6 with nine games hitting the over.
I’m really feeling the upset here. The Vikings contained Michael Thomas (seven catches for 70 yards) and Alvin Kamara (seven catches, 21 yards, one touchdown) last Sunday, and outside of a couple of Taysom Hill plays that game probably isn’t close.
If the Vikings can keep their pace on offense, with getting Stefon Diggs a little more involved, this really could be the upset of the playoffs. I’m going out on a limb and taking Minnesota and the points.