Kirk Cousins has never finished with a .500 record in any season as a starter, even if he has flirted with it and been properly tagged with the perception that his teams generally finish right around that mark.
He will be hard-pressed to do it in 2021, owing more to a new scheduling quirk than his own acumen. The NFL is now a 17-game affair, and in order to go .500 this season, Cousins' Vikings would need to finish 8-8-1 — not out of the question since Cousins has improbably finished 8-7-1 twice in his career (once each for Washington and Minnesota), but still far less likely than when the NFL played an even number of games like every other rational league everywhere.
But there is one place you can find a perfectly even split on the 2021 Vikings: The William Hill sports book, which released its over/under win total lines for all 32 NFL teams a couple days ago.
Only one NFL team opened with an over-under of 8.5. Yes, it's your Vikings.
I talked about that at the end of Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast, with the caveat (of course) being that you should only use this a thought exercise if sports betting is not permitted where you live.
If you don't see the podcast player, click here to listen.
In a 17-game season, that means that the wagering-inclined Vikings fan has a simple question to ask herself or himself: Are the Vikings going to finish with a winning record (9-8 or better) or a losing record (8-9 or worse)?
If you had to wager, say, your May rent or mortgage payment on one of those two outcomes, which would you pick?
Maybe you would make a slightly more informed decision once they hold next week's draft and/or (hopefully) add more to the offensive line. Maybe the order of their schedule would even matter. But not much should fundamentally change from now until September.
These are their 17 games — eight at home, nine on the road, the fifth-toughest schedule overall in terms of opponent 2020 winning percentage:
Home:Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys
Road:Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Chargers.
That's ... tough. The defense should be better, but there are no guarantees. The offense could take a step back. And the special teams are as unsettled as ever.
Do you go with your general Vikings pessimism or Mike Zimmer's odd year magic?
I have to admit, I was surprised when I put this to a Twitter poll. More than 70% of you (at least as of 8 a.m. Tuesday) would take the over — meaning seven out of every 10 respondents think the Vikings will have a winning season in 2021.
I guess this is what I would say: If I was a Vikings fan just making a small wager for fun in order to stay interested in the season, I'd bet the over — 9 wins, a winning record, maybe a trip to the playoffs and an extension of the Cousins/Zimmer/Rick Spielman era.
If I had to bet a serious amount of money? Give me the under, because I'm worried that it will all fall apart against some pretty good teams.