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Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers Are Having A “Freaky Friday” Moment

Shortly after the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Washington Commanders, Kirk Cousins was partaking in something that is becoming a weekly tradition.

Hours after being pounded by the Commanders’ defensive line and screaming, “You like that?” in the visiting locker room, Cousins was on a plane, shirtless, with nearly $100k worth of jewelry around his neck.

His teammates giddily grabbed their cell phones as Cousins danced awkwardly inside the cabin, and the 7-1 Vikings were on their way to an important showdown against the Buffalo Bills next week.

At the same time, a much different situation was playing out in Detroit. Aaron Rodgers just tossed his third interception during the Green Bay Packers’ loss to the Detroit Lions. Sulking in his own disappointment, Rodgers shook and let out the type of scream reserved for the back corner of a Kwik Trip cooler.

Back in Green Bay, the locals were lighting up vent lines saying things like “He’s making too much money!” and “They should tank to get a quarterback!” Some were also hopeful that if they could just get back to .500, Green Bay could make a run at this thing, but the truth is, the season was already over.

Those cries sound familiar to Vikings fans who have been trapped in the NFL’s purgatory in the past several years while the Packers have won at least 13 games in the past three seasons. There are several reasons why these teams have experienced a Freaky Friday-type swap, but the biggest has been the evolution of Cousins and Rodgers.

Coming into the season, the jury was out on Cousins. A group of fans would be quick to tell you about his prolific stats. Another group would point out his .500 record as a starter. His merit as a franchise quarterback was hotly debated, and his play on the field controlled it.

There were times where Cousins made highlight-reel throws but shrink when the pressure turned on. His primetime record was a hot topic. His relationship with Zimmer was a firestorm. His body language was analyzed in every play, and when things went wrong, he was the Vikings’ biggest scapegoat.

With all of Cousins’ shortcomings, the Vikings hovered around .500 for most of his four seasons in Minnesota. His supporters said he needs to have a better defense, a better offensive line, and a modern offensive scheme. His detractors would mention that he already had Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook.

On the other side of the Mississippi, Rodgers could do no wrong. With a Super Bowl ring on his finger, Rodgers basically ran the Packers as soon as Mike McCarthy went out the door.

When ex-players criticized him, they were disowned by fans faster than Rodgers did his own family. When he became upset that the Packers drafted Jordan Love, he won MVP awards despite his own front office. Most fans still supported him when he demanded a trade and applauded his 3-year, $150 million contract extension last offseason.

But after Rodgers signed his contract, he became a marked man. Davante Adams demanded a trade and was sent to the Las Vegas Raiders. Rodgers probably demanded the Packers take a wide receiver in the draft, but the Packers took two defensive players (Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt) instead.

Green Bay traded up to select Christian Watson with the 34th-overall pick and selected Romeo Doubs in the fourth round, but neither has been an NFL-ready target. Injuries to Allen Lazard and David Bakhtiari haven’t helped, and the offense has been spiraling into the gutter.

It came to a head on Sunday when Rodgers threw three picks to a Lions defense that had two interceptions all season. Rodgers underthrew a deep shot to Lazard in the third quarter, and a touchdown on a trick play earlier in the game. All along, the quarterback who seemed to be god-like regardless of his supporting cast appeared mortal.

It looked like the same thing was happening to Cousins for the first three quarters in Washington. The Vikings marched down the field for a touchdown on their opening drive but quickly stalled out. An interception late in the first half took points off the board, and Ezra Cleveland was getting thrown around like a luchador going up against a 1980s professional wrestler.

Jefferson dropped a couple of passes in the end zone while Thielen and K.J. Osborn consistently struggled to get open. There were enough excuses for Cousins to have a Bad Kirk game even before Jonathan Allen slammed him into the turf on a 47-yard completion to Jefferson down 17-7, but Cousins went out and overcame all of it.

The Commanders had a role in handing the game to the Vikings, but that doesn’t matter. For years, the Packers would take a lesser team lightly, like a lion playing with its food. Rodgers would come to the rescue when the Packers were in trouble, throwing touchdowns to receivers nobody had heard of and being carried off like a hero at Lambeau Field.

Coming out of the game on Sunday, Cousins had the same feeling, throwing a game-tying touchdown and then a 14-play drive that ended with Greg Joseph’s 22-yard field goal with 13 seconds to go. He was one of many Vikings who received a game ball and jumped onto the plane to greet his euphoric teammates.

There’s a good chance the vibes weren’t the same on the Packers’ ride home. There has been a reversal of fortune this season. If the Vikings continue to win, Cousins will continue to put chains around his neck and be the type of hero that Rodgers has been in Green Bay. Even if Rodgers drags the Packers to a .500 record, it will be the purgatory Vikings fans know all too well.

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