Direct comparisons are often too reductive for sophisticated tastes, but the past two weeks of the NFL season have given us an opportunity too delicious to pass up.
Last weekend, in their first full game without Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs played the Packers tough. A back-and-forth game was tied 24-24 in the fourth quarter when the Packers took the ball and scored on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to running back Aaron Jones.
Green Bay’s defense followed with a quick stop, and the Packers offense held the ball for the final five minutes to earn a quality road win over a team forced to use backup QB Matt Moore.
On Sunday, the Vikings had a nearly identical situation, playing the same Moore-led Chiefs team on the road. Minnesota led 23-20 midway through the fourth quarter and had the ball with a chance to take control of the game.
Instead, the Vikings went three plays, 0 yards, and punted. Kansas City responded with a game-tying field goal drive, but no worries: 23-23, 2:30 to play, time for Kirk Cousins to lead a scoring march against a poor defense.
The Vikings went three plays, lost 7 yards, and punted to the Chiefs — who predictably went down for the winning field goal as time expired.
One team seized the opportunity against a weakened opponent. The other wilted. It goes beyond Rodgers and Cousins, but this truth is inescapable even after a wonderful October from Cousins: The QB you trust more in those “have to have them” situations is Rodgers, and the sequences by the Vikings make you wonder how much they trust Cousins.
Cousins has made strides to narrow that gap, but Sunday was a big step back in a “have to have it” game with two defining opportunities on late drives.
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There are a lot of ways to interpret the various sets of “way too early” World Series odds for 2020 that popped up almost as fast as Gerrit Cole declared his free agency after Game 7 Wednesday.
But it’s revealing to see the Twins so relatively low in both online odds and Westgate odds.
In the former, per Sports Betting Dime, the Twins sit at just 35-1 to win the World Series — 13th among all teams, a whole bunch of whom finished worse than the Twins last season since, you know, they had the fourth-most wins in the majors. Cleveland (27-1) is among the teams given a better chance.
Meanwhile, Westgate odds in Vegas have the Twins at 20-1, but bundled with six other teams at that spot while eight others are above them. Again, Cleveland shows up ahead of the Twins (16-1).
Does any of this really matter in early November? Of course not. But it certainly seems like oddsmakers are skeptical that the Twins can maintain their 2019 level of success — and/or that even if they get back to the postseason they can do anything once they get there.
It will be interesting to see what the Twins are able to accomplish this offseason, particularly when it comes to acquiring top-end starting pitching — and how the odds adjust accordingly before the season starts.
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The idea that ESPN’s “GameDay” snubbed the Gophers is preposterous. The show absolutely should be going to Alabama on Saturday for a showdown between the No. 1 Crimson Tide and No. 2 LSU. And the first “GameDay” visit ever in Minneapolis should be for a Gophers-Wisconsin game — ideally later this month, quite possibly with the Big Ten West on the line.
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The Wild has four wins in 14 games. The Wolves have four wins in five games. I thought it was going to be a race to 30 wins to see which local team won more this year. Suffice to say the Wild is playing below even diminished expectations and the Wolves are far exceeding them so far.