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Lunchbreak: Kirk Cousins Has Been 'Under-The-Radar Elite' in 2019

It might be a longshot for Kirk Cousins to win the NFL's MVP award this season.

But with three regular-season games remaining in 2019, there's no denying that the Vikings quarterback is playing perhaps the best football of his career.

That's the consensus around the league, especially from Ty Schalter and Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight.com. The pair recently highlighted Cousins' impressive season to date and wrote he has been 'under-the-radar elite' for the Vikings.

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Schalter and Paine wrote:

No, he hasn't juked defenders out of their skin like Lamar Jackson, and he isn't on pace to throw for 5,000 yards like Dak Prescott. Cousins hasn't created 75 percent of his team's offense like Russell Wilson, or led his team to as many fourth- quarter comebacks as Jimmy Garoppolo.

In fact, it's tough to point to any one thing Kirk Cousins does well ... except execute his offense at an exceptional level.

His play has been efficient before: He had the league's second-best completion rate last season, his first with the Vikings. But Cousins' other stats weren't as impressive, and the Vikings responded by firing their offensive coordinator after less than a year on the job.

But this year, Cousins is ranked in the top five of almost every major passing rate metric, and he's sixth in the FiveThirtyEight quarterback Elo ratings. He's done the little things right, made big plays, avoided bad mistakes and generated offense more effectively than he ever has before — and more so than almost any other quarterback in the league.

View exclusive black-and-white images as the Vikings competed against the Lions in Week 14 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Cousins has now completed 272 of 388 passes (70.1 percent) for 3,274 yards with 24 touchdowns. His passer rating of 112.0 ranks second in the NFL.

The quarterback ranks fourth in the league in completion percentage, is fifth with a touchdown percentage of 6.2 and is third with an interception percentage of 1.03. Cousins also has the second-best passer rating and isn't afraid to go deep, as he averages 8.4 yards per attempt, which ranks third.

Cousins has four interceptions in 2019 and is on pace for his lowest total in his five years as an NFL starter.

Outside of Week 2's game against Green Bay, Cousins has thrown two interceptions (both hit off his receiver's hands) in 356 pass attempts. Cousins' interception percentage in those 12 games is 0.56 percent.

View photos of Vikings legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Randle who celebrates his birthday on Dec. 12.

Moss, Randle, McDaniel inducted into Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame

Randy Moss, John Randle and Randall McDaniel are each already enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Now the trio has received another accolade, as the teammates on the 1998 Vikings were inducted into the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.

Moss took the league by storm as a rookie with 69 catches for 1,313 yards and a rookie-record 17 touchdown catches. He played for the Vikings for seven-plus seasons and went into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2017 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.

The wide receiver ranks second in league history with 156 touchdown catches, and he is fourth all-time with 15,292 receiving yards. His 982 receptions rank 15th.

Randle is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2010) and the Vikings Ring of Honor (2008). An undrafted free agent, Randle spent 11 seasons in Purple (1990-2000) and recorded 114.0 of his 137.5 career sacks with the Vikings. His career sacks total leads all defensive tackles in league history and is also tied for 10th all-time.

Named to the All-Decade Team in the 1990s, Randle was selected to six straight Pro Bowls from 1993-1998. He had double-digit sacks in each season from 1993 to 2000.

McDaniel played 12 of his 14 seasons with the Vikings, suiting up in Purple from 1988 to 1999. He started 202 consecutive games in his career and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s. McDaniel blocked for five 1,000-yard rushers and three 3,000-yard passers in his career.

A first-round pick in 1988 out of Arizona State, McDaniel was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2006. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

Moss, Randle, McDaniel were among six total inductees. The others were basketball player Lindsay Whalen, football coach John Gagliardi and hockey icon Willard Ikola.

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