See more of the story

It’s getting harder to find the Kirk Cousins haters on Vikings Twitter — and yes “Vikings Twitter” is an entity, a thing, just like “the population of Michigan” or “people who love Pizza Ranch.”

Vikings Twitter tends to skew negative, which happens when a fan base has had its collective heart stomped on countless times. When Cousins looked like the second coming of Spergon Wynn at times earlier this year, it was a race to the bottom to see who could rip him most viciously and/or cleverly.

But now? It’s hard not to like what we’ve seen in the past three weeks. I dare say this is the best the Vikings offense has looked for any sustained amount of time since 2009, when Brett Favre turned 40 and turned back the clock.

That was a decade ago. Favre just turned 50. And Cousins is doing his best Favre 2009 impression — spreading the ball around, playing off an elite running game and making confident, quick decisions.

Sunday’s 42-30 victory at Detroit, sealed late when the Vikings trusted Cousins to find Stefon Diggs on a deep ball, was just the second time in the Mike Zimmer era that the Vikings have won when allowing 30 or more points. The other? When they beat Cousins and Washington 38-30 in 2017.

What’s a hater supposed to do?

The best I could find Sunday postgame was a variation on, “Yeah, but …” Let’s see Cousins do it in prime time. Let’s see him do it against better teams. Let’s see him keep it going.

Maybe the negativity is fueling Cousins? After all, following the low-point loss at Chicago Cousins admitted he was motivated going forward to play with more of an edge. Since then, he’s piled up 10 touchdowns, just one interception (and that not his fault) and almost 1,000 yards passing in three wins.

It’s reminiscent of the tear he went on starting with his famous “YOU LIKE THAT?!” game with Washington in 2015, when he threw 23 TDs to just three picks in his final 10 games.

In that case, Cousins shouldn’t try to silence his critics to the point that he can no longer hear them.

• • •

The narrative that you can’t win big without a great bullpen in modern Major League Baseball is being challenged by this World Series matchup.

Houston qualifies as such, finishing with the third-best bullpen ERA (3.75) during the regular season and having a generally reliable back end of the ’pen (Saturday night notwithstanding).

But Washington? The Nationals finished dead last in ERA by relief pitchers (5.66). Washington got here with good old-fashioned starting pitching, and the pitching matchups in the World Series are going to be phenomenal.

And it probably will reinforce what we learned earlier in the playoffs: To be a true threat, the Twins need more top-end rotation talent.

The Twins have an offense ready to contend for a championship. If they think there’s a realistic path to getting an ace this offseason — whether it’s spending big, making a splashy trade or unearthing a good pitcher and making him great — they need to go for it.

• • •

It’s dangerous and counterproductive to look too far ahead at a football team’s possibilities, but with the Gophers it’s at least generally more pleasant than looking too far back.

Let’s just say this: The Badgers’ stunning loss to Illinois on Saturday created a world of chances for the Gophers. If — IF — Minnesota beats Maryland and Wisconsin loses at Ohio State on Saturday, the Gophers would have at least a two-game lead over every other team in the Big Ten West.

Minnesota’s schedule stiffens considerably after that, but if those two outcomes play out, it would be hard to imagine the Gophers at least not playing for the West title when they host the Badgers in the regular-season finale.