Kirk Cousins hints at surprise return from injury in game Vikings would be lucky to reach

Is Kirk Cousins returning for the Minnesota Vikings this season? No. Probably not.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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The Minnesota Vikings fell to 7-7 with a heartbreaking loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The season is far from over, of course, as Minnesota still holds the No. 6 seed in the NFC. That said, there is a lot of competition for those final Wild Card spots. The Rams, Seahawks, and Saints are also 7-7 — not to mention the first-place Buccaneers in the NFC South. That is five teams competing for three spots, only two of which are available to the Vikings.

Minnesota made the decision to start Nick Mullens at QB on Sunday. It was a difficult afternoon for the 28-year-old. He completed 78.8 percent of his passes for 303 yards and two scores, but he also tossed two consequential interceptions — as well as a third INT, a pick six, that was called back due to a lucky offside penalty.

Mullens should get the nod over Josh Dobbs moving forward — unfortunately, the Passtronaut has lost his luster — but it's hard to imagine the Vikings going far in the postseason if Minnesota can get there in the first place. The last three games on Minnesota's schedule are a doozy: Detroit in Week 16, Green Bay in Week 17, then another game against Detroit (on the road) in Week 18.

The Vikings will hope Detroit rolls over in the final week with their postseason spot locked up, but there's a solid chance Detroit is still jockeying for position with Dallas, San Francisco, and Philadelphia in Week 18. So, Minnesota is hardly a favorite to get to the playoffs, much less make a deep run.

That said, one person — and I literally mean one person — is holding out hope for a Kirk Cousins return in the Super Bowl. And no, it's not even Kirk Cousins.

Vikings' Kirk Cousins won't 100 percent rule out Super Bowl return

ESPN's Adam Schefter essentially asks Kirk Cousins why there isn't any talk of him returning from an Achilles injury after all the noise about Aaron Rodgers' miraculous recovery in New York. Cousins notes the difference in timeline — Rodgers' injury occurred roughly eight weeks earlier, duh — and basically said even the most optimistic outlook places his return after the Super Bowl.

Notably, however, Cousins' wife, Julie Hampton, is still hopeful the 35-year-old can get back before the big game.

"My wife's holding out hope that somehow, if Aaron [Rodgers] can get back fast, then you add 7-8 weeks, that I'd be right there at the Super Bowl," Cousins said. "So, who knows, we'll see. This league's crazy."

Of note, Cousins did not receive the same surgical treatment that Rodgers did, nor does Cousins believe he would actually play in the Super Bowl, even if Minnesota gets to that point without him.

"Well, if [the Vikings] make it to the Super Bowl without me, they're probably not going to want to play me."

Cousins is taking the realistic approach here. It would appear Rodgers could have returned this week if the Jets were still in postseason contention, but even that's iffy. Rodgers hasn't been through 11-on-11 drills yet and he admitted earlier this week that he is not medically cleared.

Even if Cousins can miraculously one-up Rodgers with a return to full strength in time for the Super Bowl, it's almost impossible to imagine the Nick Mullens-led Vikings getting to that point. If they do, then Nick Mullens will have supplanted Kirk Cousins as Minnesota's QB of the future, and Cousins will be a glorified backup once the big game rolls around.

Those are the simple facts of the matter. There's no denying Cousins' competitive drive, but there's no reason to blow smoke about a severe injury that typically takes a full season to recover from.

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