Kirk Cousins has looked great against bad secondaries over the last two games, but can he step up against what seems to be a better defense in Week 7?
After a dismal performance in Chicago against the Bears in Week 4, the best of Kirk Cousins has been on display over the last two games. He has topped 300 yards through the air in both of those Minnesota Vikings wins, completing 78.6 percent of his passes with a passer rating of 142.5 while averaging 11.4 yards per pass attempt over that span.
Of course, those games came against the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, the 31st and 29th-ranked pass defenses in the league entering Week 7, respectively. So Cousins should’ve had success in those games, and he delivered.
A tougher test is theoretically coming on the road for the Vikings against the Detroit Lions in Week 7. But besides it being on the road against a division rival, is it really a tougher test for Cousins?
First of all, the Lions will be on a short week after a deflating loss to the Green Bay Packers last Monday night. It’s easy to point to Detroit being an improved defense under head coach Matt Patricia, but they are the league’s 28th-ranked pass defense right now (280 yards per game). They have faced Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers over their last four games, so that’s some important context, along with top cornerback Darius Slay missing all or part of two games.
The Lions are also 27th in the league against the run (133.8 yards per game), while allowing a robust 5.1 yards per carry.
Detroit is also toward the bottom of the league in pressure percentage (20.7 percent), quarterback knockdown rate (4.8 percent) and naturally, sacks (10) so far this season.
So the Lions are struggling to stop the run. They aren’t stopping opposing pass offenses especially well either, and they aren’t pressuring, hitting or sacking the quarterback at particularly good rates. They also have the lowest blitz rate in the league (11 percent of dropbacks).
Cousins had his highest single-game passer rating last season against the Lions in Detroit (137.9), as he went 21-for-28 for 253 yards and three touchdowns. For a quarterback who needs to have confidence infused into him, and should be playing with a high level of confidence right now anyway, he has that performance to refer back to.
The Lions’ defense will provide a tougher test for Cousins than the Giants or Eagles were able to. But let’s not pretend it’s a particularly stern test, since it’s against another bottom-tier pass defense.