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Can Kirk Cousins lead Vikings to another cover at 49ers?

Updated January 9, 2020 - 6:29 pm

The three-word mantra — “You like that!?” — has followed Kirk Cousins since he yelled it at a reporter in 2015 after leading the Redskins to a 24-point comeback win over the Buccaneers.

Packers linebacker Preston Smith mocked Cousins, his former teammate in Washington, by shouting the phrase after Green Bay’s Week 16 win over Minnesota dropped Cousins’ career record on “Monday Night Football” to 0-9.

But Cousins reclaimed his mantra Sunday after leading Minnesota to a stunning 26-20 overtime victory at New Orleans for his first playoff win.

Given the game ball by coach Mike Zimmer, Cousins told his teammates, “Hey, that’s how we’ve won all year — team, right? You held them to 20 points, men. You gave us a chance at the end.

“But I got three words for you: You like that!?”

The betting public didn’t like that at all, as Cousins turned all Saints tickets, including a mountain of teasers, into trash. But sharp bettors liked that the Vikings covered as 7-point underdogs, and they’re backing Minnesota again as a 7-point road underdog at San Francisco in Saturday’s divisional playoff game.

“I just think it’s too big of a number,” professional sports bettor Jeff Whitelaw said. “San Francisco plays a lot of close games. They could very easily win but not cover.

“I do like that game under quite a bit. It might be raining there, so I also went under 45. The Vikings also have a decent defense. I think that’ll be a lower-scoring game.”

Ed Salmons, Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk, and SuperContest winners It Ain’t Breezy (Nebraskans Eric Jensen and Matt Kucera) also like the Vikings to cover.

Jensen and Kucera went 2-1 ATS last week in this space after going 58-25-2 ATS (69.9 percent) to top a field of 3,328 and win $1.47 million in the SuperContest.

“We really don’t think Jimmy Garoppolo is that much better a quarterback than Kirk Cousins, and we think the Vikings defense will match up well with the Niners’ run game,” Jensen said.

Salmons noted that Minnesota’s power rating is higher than that of Green Bay, which was a 3-point underdog at San Francisco in late November.

“And the Vikings are getting 7. You’re getting a pretty good deal on the Vikings,” he said. “The Niners have a lot of expectations being a No. 1 seed. Minnesota’s a really experienced team and won in a really tough environment last week.

“If the bad Kirk Cousins plays, then obviously they’re not going to win. But if they can play fairly mistake free and run the way they did last week, I think Minnesota’s a good bet.”

Packers (-4) over Seahawks

A sharp bettor at CG Technology placed a $22,000 straight bet to win $20,000 on Green Bay (-4) over Seattle. Salmons and Breezy also are backing the Packers, who have won the past five meetings with the Seahawks at Lambeau Field.

“This is seemingly such a great spot for Green Bay,” Salmons said. “They’re a somewhat experienced team with Aaron Rodgers. Seattle is playing back-to-back weeks with a banged-up offensive line and no running game.

“They had to travel east to Philadelphia and now they have to travel east to Green Bay. It will be almost 6 p.m. Green Bay time, and it will probably be in the 20s. Everything points to Green Bay for me.”

Chiefs (-9½) over Texans

Whitelaw and Breezy like Kansas City to pull away from Houston, which trailed Buffalo 16-0 at home Saturday before rallying for a 22-19 OT win.

“I just think Houston is spent. They do not look good,” Whitelaw said. “They were very lucky to beat Buffalo at home, and now they’re going to go to Kansas City. Their defense looks a little questionable, and Kansas City will be too much for them.”

One of Breezy’s winning philosophies was to always back the better coach, and the Chiefs’ Andy Reid is 22-4 straight up and 17-9 ATS after a bye.

“The Texans are just going to be overmatched. They’re not going to be able to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill and that offense,” Jensen said. “We see the Chiefs running away with that one.”

Titans (+10) over Ravens

Whitelaw likes Tennessee getting 10 points, which is available at Caesars Entertainment.

“I know Baltimore’s great, but the way (Derrick) Henry’s running right now, I think Tennessee will be able to shorten the game,” he said. “Baltimore’s offense is amazing. Their defense is OK, but it’s not elite. If Tennessee can get a running game going, I think they’ll be able to stay in the game and certainly cover the 10. Ten points is a lot of points in a playoff game.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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