Sep 10, 2023 - Sports

Vikings 2023 season preview: The last ride for Kirk Cousins?

Kirk Cousins throwing a pass

Kirk Cousins enters his sixth year as Vikings quarterback. Photo: David Berding/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings take the field Sunday for their first regular season game since blowing it against the New York Giants in the playoffs in January.

  • In case you've wisely been checked out from football all summer, here's your guide to faking it.

The big picture: This year could be the last ride for Kirk Cousins, who has spent the past five seasons at quarterback in Minnesota. The 35-year-old is set to be a free agent after the season, and it'll be tough financially for the team to keep him.

  • The Netflix documentary "Quarterback" further endeared Cousins to Vikings fans, and even a few Packers fans in Nick's orbit have sheepishly admitted they gained respect for their nemesis after watching him fight through injuries and spend his off days shopping at Barnes & Noble.

Why it matters: Cousins has provided stability for a franchise that hasn't had a long-term quarterback since Fran Tarkenton in the 1970s. But he's also never propelled the purple to a deep run in the playoffs.

State of play: The Vikings are undergoing a rebuild on the fly. They let go of several aging veterans this offseason, including wide receiver Adam Thielen, running back Dalvin Cook and linebacker Eric Kendricks.

What they did: After the Giants sliced through the Vikings' defense in the playoffs, dropping 31 points in U.S. Bank Stadium, head coach Kevin O'Connell fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and hired Brian Flores.

  • Flores is regarded as a defensive genius, and the Vikings are betting he can get the most out of the corps of young defenders.

What else is new: Jordan Addison, the Vikings' first round draft pick. The diminutive wide receiver has impressed during training camp and could be the next in a long line of great Minnesota pass catchers.

  • A receiving corps of Addison, Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn and T.J. Hockenson brings back memories of three-deep Vikings days, with Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Jake Reed.

Nick's prediction: The Vikings went 13-4 last season thanks in part to winning every one of their close games. That's not likely to happen again, and the schedule is a bit tougher.

  • They'll go 9-8 and sneak into the playoffs thanks to a high-scoring offense and a slightly improved defense.
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