It all started in the minutes after the Minnesota Vikings’ intense victory over the New York Jets. With the Vikings now just a win away from clinching the NFC North, a reported asked quarterback Kirk Cousins if it will feel extra special to clinch the division in Michigan—where the quarterback grew up and went to college.
“I think anytime you can play in a ‘t-shirt and hat game’ and get the job done, that’s what is special,” Cousins said.
Yep, the Vikings are already visualizing wearing NFC Champion hats and t-shirts apparel at Ford Field.
Generally speaking, though, in terms of trash talk or bulletin board material, that’s pretty tame. In fact, a few sentences later, Cousins would go on to say they can’t overlook this Detroit Lions team.
“We’ve got a big challenge, and I think the Lions are a really good football team,” Cousins.
Okay, hackles down. No big deal.
Well... the very next day, linebacker D.J. Wonnum repeated the line:
#Vikings OLB D.J. Wonnum agreed with what Kirk Cousins said yesterday about being able to clinch the NFC North on Sunday at Detroit. "It's definitely a hat and T-shirt game."— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) December 5, 2022
Again, probably not a big deal. People refer to potential playoff and division clinching games as “hat and t-shirt games.” It’s certainly mildly annoying for them to already be thinking about that, but in terms of direct disrespect... it’s a stretch.
That is, until Vikings receiver Jalen Reagor spoked with the media on Wednesday. No matter way you spin this quote, it’s full-on bulletin board material for Detroit.
“We’re going to win,” Reagor told Vikings reporter Chris Tomasson.
When asked to clarify if that was a guarantee, Reagor responded, “Yes,” later adding “I have no doubts.”
Jalen Reagor has guaranteed #Vikings to win at Detroit. I asked him about possibly clinching division & he said “We’re going to win” I asked him if that's a guarantee: "Yes'' He added “I’m not going to say nothing about if we might win. I’m..expecting us to win..I have no doubts"— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) December 7, 2022
Oh, it’s on now.
The last time the two teams played, it was a closely-battled match in which the Lions blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead. But the last time the two played at Ford Field, it was the Lions who mounted a miraculous comeback, scoring the game-winning touchdown on the last play of the game.
The Lions are currently surging, winning four of their last five games, but the Vikings have done an unbelievable job of finishing games, leading to a 9-0 record in one-score games and a 10-2 record overall.
The betting public clearly doesn’t have the same confidence that Reagor has in his team, as the Vegas line for this game has dramatically shifted from favoring the Vikings by one point to making the Lions now 2.5-point favorites for Sunday.