NFL Week 14: ‘Thursday Night Football’ Steelers vs. Vikings Betting Odds & Predictions

Kirk Cousins and the Vikings have ruined the Lions’ chance at making NFL history–plus the latest odds from MaximBet.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins
(Getty Images)

There’s a moment towards the end of The Godfather Part II where Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, embraces his brother Fredo at a New Year’s Eve party before forcibly grabbing his head and kissing him on the mouth

Michael says, “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart.”

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It was known as the “Kiss of Death.” Fredo earned it by inadvertently betraying Michael, through his stupidity, helping set up a hit on his own brother by a couple of rival gangsters. 

If the NFL ever had a Fredo, it’s the Minnesota Vikings.

And Sunday, they broke all our hearts at MaximBet by surrendering a last-second touchdown pass to the Detroit Lions, earning that hapless team its first and probably only victory of 2021. At least Jared Goff’s model girlfriend enjoyed the moment.

Sure, you could lay a lot of the blame on Kirk Cousins, and I do. Don’t bother going in for a Kiss of Death, though. With whatever COVID-19 Unicronopodopolis variant he’s cooking up in his unvaccinated head, the only person dying from the smooch would be you. 

It was the quintessential Cousins performance — huge stats, 340 yards and a couple of touchdowns, all coming in a devastating loss. Kirk has turned this kind of fantasy stud/real-life dud Sunday afternoon into an artform. As Jean Shepard once wrote, Cousins works in high stat losses “the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It’s his true medium. A master.”

But of all the games where Cousins threw for 300-400 yards and multiple TDs only to suffer a sure defeat, this one hurt the most. Because we, as a nation, needed a 0-16-1 Detroit Lions team to happen.

We’d already lost our chance at an 0-17 finish, thanks to the team the Vikings play this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that goose egg remained in front of Detroit’s record. Not only could we get the first winless team in a 17-game season, we could hold out hope that we could still see an 0-17 team in the future. 

Between the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans and these Lions, anything is possible next year. 

But it was too much to ask of Detroit. It took 30 years once the NFL moved to 16 games for the first team to achieve an 0-16 finish, and it was these same Detroit Lions in 2008. They would not go gently into that good night again in the first year of 17 games. They were going to give it their all and bite every kneecap in the building to attempt to get that first victory. 

But on the final play, Minnesota just handed it to them. With four seconds left on the clock, the Vikings called an inexplicable defense that had two defenders behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, but nowhere within two yards of him in the paint. I’ve never coached a down of football outside of a video game, but as a Madden franchise owner, I would have fired myself after calling that play. 

The dream is over now. The Lions suck, but now they suck in just a normal, ordinary way. A 1-15-1 way that will mean absolutely nothing at the end of the year thanks to the Vikings.

Fredo, you broke my heart.

NFL Thursday Night Football Betting Odds

Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings (-3)

Here’s the real B.S. about the Vikings, they’re going to beat the Steelers on Thursday night. No one wants that. Pittsburgh saved its season with an epic last-second victory over the Baltimore Ravens Sunday in Week 13, a day after news hit that Ben Roethlisberger was definitely hanging up his spurs after the final whistle of the 2021 season. 

We all, as a civilization, want to see Roethlisberger, a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer, go out on his shield in the postseason. No one thinks Pittsburgh is a Super Bowl team. But we want them in the playoffs. We want the spectacle of one more Roethlisberger run, even if it just lasts a single game.

But here comes fucking Fredo, with nary a dinghy or fishing pole in sight.

Take the Vikings at -3.

Adam Greene is @TheFirstMan on Twitter.

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