Hot Takes with Ben

Ben Lepper

I consider myself to be a hot take artist, so I figured that I would start a little recurring segment in the sports section where I share some of my recent ones. Whenever I do one of these, I will provide a few hot takes about sports in general, not limited by sport or league. Enough talk, let’s get into it.

Kirk Cousins Is Not the Problem & Should Be in the MVP Conversation

As a part-time Minnesota Vikings fan, I constantly see the jokes about Kirk Cousins not being the team’s savior. He constantly puts up solid numbers every season, but those are overshadowed by bad decisions on the field. I have believed for years that Kirk Cousins is not the team’s problem — it’s Mike Zimmer, their coach, and this season has all but proved it. Cousins is quietly putting up an MVP caliber season. At press time, he’s thrown for 2775 yards, 21 touchdowns, and only 2 interceptions. He has been building dangerous rapports with second-year wideout Justin Jefferson and veteran Adam Thielen. At this moment in time, Cousins is Pro Football Focus’ second highest graded quarterback, beaten by only Tom Brady. His decision making this season has improved greatly and the Vikings offense is clicking. He makes mistakes, but so does every QB. He is not the problem, it’s coaching and team defense that ruins them (not to mention the team’s horrible luck with kicking game winning field goals). And, to take it a step further, I think Kirk Cousins should be in the MVP conversation. Right now, the Vikings are near .500, and it’s not often that a player from a non-playoff team wins MVP. But what if Minnesota makes the playoffs? The NFC is wide open, and they very well could do something in January. If the Vikings make the playoffs, I believe that Kirk’s name should be right up there with Jonathan Taylor and Tom Brady when it comes to selecting the league MVP for 2021.

The Edmonton Oilers Are One Piece Away from a Deep Cup Run

I laughed at the Oilers this off-season. What were they doing? This team made questionable move after questionable move this off-season, capped off by signing Cody Ceci to a four year deal. It’s almost like they enjoyed getting embarrassed by Winnipeg in the first round of the playoffs and wanted to have it happen again year after year. Wouldn’t you know, they’ve completely proved me wrong. At this time, the Oilers are in a dogfight with the Calgary Flames for the top of the Pacific Division. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are continuing to be the greatest scoring tandem in the league, while players such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Zach Hyman are quietly putting together quality seasons as well. This is a good hockey team, but there’s one thing about them that I’m hesitant about: goaltending. Mike Smith has gone on the long term injury reserve. Mikko Koskinen is having a solid year, with 11 wins and 2 losses, but Stuart Skinner looks like he needs more time to develop. Not only that, but this team’s goaltending always collapses in the playoffs. I’d expect them to go after a seasoned goalie at the trade deadline. If they can acquire reliable goaltending for the postseason, this team has a real shot at winning Canada’s first Stanley Cup since 1993.

Ohio State & Alabama Will Miss The College Football Playoff

I know that the selection committee loves OSU and Alabama, but I just don’t see either of them making it this year. The loss to Michigan was a death knell for the Buckeyes, and I expect Georgia to handle the Tide pretty easily. Two loss teams rarely ever make the CFP, so they’re done. Instead, I expect this year’s CFP to consist of Georgia, Cincinnati, Michigan, and either Oklahoma State or Notre Dame. It’ll be refreshing to see teams that aren’t Alabama or Ohio State vying for the championship. If anyone asks where my allegiance lies, go Bearcats. 

The Phoenix Suns Are Winning It All

This one’s not as hot as my other takes, but I just needed to get it out there. The Suns are scary. Right now, they’re fighting with Golden State for the best in the West, but I’m really not feeling the Warriors this year. Only three of their players are averaging at least 10 PPG compared to the Suns’ six. Devin Booker is playing out of his mind, with Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton complimenting him nicely. At press time, they’re on a 16 game winning streak. This team is clicking, and I expect them to keep clicking all the way to their second consecutive Finals appearance – and I think they’ll win this one.

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