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How does Kirk Cousins' 3-game stretch stack up against recent Vikings quarterbacks?

He's been better than Favre, Culpepper and Cunningham.
Kirk Cousins

Life comes at you pretty fast in the NFL. One week you're throwing only 12 passes in a game and then six weeks later you're leading the league in passer rating.

Through seven games, Kirk Cousins is now pacing the league with a 114.3 passer rating. He's increased that figure by 25.7 points since Minnesota's Week 4 clunker in Chicago.

In the past three games, Cousins has a rating of 142.6 (perfect is 158.3) with 10 touchdowns, one interception (which bounced off Stefon Diggs' helmet), 976 yards, 10.8 yards per attempt and has been sacked just four times.

But how does Cousins' performance these past three weeks stack up against previous Vikings quarterbacks? Here's how Brett Favre in 2009, Daunte Culpepper in 2004 (where he finished second in MVP voting) and Randall Cunningham in 1998 stack up against Cousins in terms of their best three-week stretches. 

Let's start with Favre, whose 2009 season will forever live in Vikings lore. Favre passed for 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 4,202 yards and his 107.2 passer rating was a career best.

His best three-game stretch came in Weeks 8-10 against the Packers, Lions and Seahawks.

  • 9 TD, 0 INT 
  • 9.77 yards per attempt
  • 139.3 rating 

All three games were Vikings wins, including returning to Lambeau Field for the first time where he whipped his former team.

Culpepper's 2004 season is one of the most under-appreciated seasons of this millennium. In 16 games, Culpepper had 39 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 4,717 yards passing – which is a ton for that time – and a rating of 110.9 while averaging 8.61 yards per attempt. 

If it wasn't for Peyton Manning breaking the touchdown record that season, Culpepper likely would've been the NFL MVP. His best three-game stretch came in Weeks 3-5 against the Bears, Texans and Saints.

  • 12 TD, 2 INT 
  • 10.09 yards per attempt
  • 128.9 rating 

What's amazing about Cunningham in '98 is that he wasn't even the season-opening starter, as Brad Johnson won the job out of training camp. 

But by Week 3, Cunningham was named the starter and in Weeks 4-6 against the Bears, Packers and Redskins, he proved to be the right man for the job.

  • 10 TD, 0 INT 
  • 10.73 yards per attempt 
  • 134.7 passer rating

And just to remind fans of what they used to have, here's Christian Ponder's best three-game stretch of his career in terms of passer rating. It came in the first three weeks of the 2012 season and it still doesn't hold a candle to the men above.

  • 4 TD, 0 INT 
  • 7.35 yards per attempt
  • 104.9 rating

In defense of Ponder – something I didn't think I'd ever say – he didn't have elite receivers or a defense of this caliber.

For Cousins, it's probably too far-fetched to assume he can have a near perfect passer rating for the rest of the season. However, a stretch of games in Weeks 9-11 when Minnesota plays the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks will paint a more accurate picture of what he's all about this year. 

Not only are two of those games in prime time, but they're against playoff-caliber teams.

Cousins can shred these mediocre defenses all he wants, but if he beats some of the league's best and in prime time – something he's never been able to do – then Vikings fans will start to appreciate his ability.

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