You could say that Kirk Cousins stands at a career crossroads, but that's not newsworthy when someone never leaves.

The Vikings' see-sawing quarterback long has lived at the corner of Might and Won't, not far from the intersection of Pretty Good and Problematic.

He is 6-6 as the Vikings' starting quarterback this year and 50-48-2 in the NFL and has spent this season reprising his career.

For six games, he all but destroyed his team's playoff chances.

For six games, he has revived them.

He is on his way to a career high in touchdowns.

And interceptions.

He was one of the NFL's worst quarterbacks in September and October, and one of its best in November.

On Sunday, Cousins will tread the same turf as the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history, Tom Brady, in yet another test of his mettle and mien.

And no one, probably not even Cousins, knows how he will respond, because even at 32 he could still edit the ending of his muddled story.

As a Viking, he is 24-18-1. Before signing with the Vikings he had not won on Monday night or in the playoffs. With the Vikings, he has done both.

He is 9-32 in his career against teams with winning records, but he has won his past two such starts — against Green Bay and Chicago.

He is 1-9 on "Monday Night Football" but 4-3 on "Sunday Night Football."

He is 1-2 in the playoffs, and 1-1 as a Viking.

That's not a particularly hopeful résumé, not for a player who joined a team that had played in the conference title game the year before, and who makes almost as much per year as Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. It's also not hopeless.

The showdown with Brady might define his season, and his season could use some definition.

The Bucs possess a strong run defense. Vikings star back Dalvin Cook is coming off a career-high 38 touches and a six-game stretch in which he has touched the ball far more than ever before in his career. Temperatures could reach the 80s.

This is unlikely to be one of those games in which Cook dominates and makes the game simple for Cousins.

This may be the first important game of the season in which Cousins has to drive the offense.

He should be able to do that. His best receivers, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, are healthy and playing like stars. The Bucs rank first in the NFL against the run and 22nd against the pass.

The Bucs also like to blitz, meaning Cousins is going to face perhaps a dozen split-second decisions that could determine the outcome of the game.

As far as outperforming perhaps the greatest quarterback who ever lived, well, Cousins is facing a flawed version of the legend.

Brady's overall numbers are impressive, if not comparable to the statistics he produced in his prime. He's completing 64.8% of his throws, which is about four percentage points better than last year and even better than his career rate of 63.9. He's thrown 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions — his career worst is 14 interceptions.

His primary failings have been in throwing the deep ball. He is 0-for-19 over the past four games on passes more than 20 yards downfield.

Cousins' greatest NFL victory came in January, on the road, against one of the greatest passers in NFL history. The Vikings beat Drew Brees and the Saints 26-20 in overtime, as Brees passed efficiently but failed to complete any passes for more than 20 yards.

Beating Brady and the Bucs is hardly impossible. They've lost three of their past four while allowing 29 points per game. They're 7-5 and just 3-3 at home.

Beating the Bucs on Sunday wouldn't erase Cousins' dubious history in high-profile or important games, but it would give him three straight victories against winning teams, and two straight against Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

A victory would also put Cousins in line to take the Vikings to the playoffs for the second straight season.

"Incremental progress" isn't much of a rallying cry, nor a good name for a signpost, but today, in Tampa, the Vikings and Cousins would take it.

Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. •