Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings: Everything you need to know
When it comes to the NFL postseason, the significance of this NFC game cannot go unstated.
The Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1) are sitting in second in the NFC North, but like a cyclist in the Tour De France, Minnesota is drafting right behind the Chicago Bears (8-4), who may just be declining at the right time for Minnesota.
The Seahawks (7-5) are riding a three-game win-streak sparked by a Thursday Night Football win against the Green Bay Packers that turned into wins at Carolina and against San Francisco. Seattle at 7-5 put itself ahead of Carolina (6-6), Philadelphia (6-6), and Washington (6-6), who are all still in the hunt of an NFC Wild Card spot.
With Minnesota and Seattle both projected to make the NFC playoffs, Seattle the three seed and Minnesota the six seed, this matchup is of utmost importance to both teams in terms of not only making the playoffs, but also for playoff seeding.
Get your popcorn ready!
How and where to watch
Betting line: SEA -3.5
Time: 5:15 PM (PT), Monday Night Football
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
T.V.: Westwood One
Radio: ESPN Radio
- RG D.J. Fluker is doubtful after leaving last Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers with a hamstring injury.
- LB K.J. Wright is questionable. Wright returned to Seattle this week after being out of town for treatment on his knee, but his status is still unknown for Monday.
- FB Tre Madden is also questionable.
- CB Trae Waynes questionable
- WR Chad Beebe questionable
- TE David Morgan questionable
When the Seahawks have the ball
The Seattle Seahawks are the only team in the NFL to call more run plays than pass plays. Seattle is back to its old school football ways of run, run, run and pound the ball. They lead the NFL in rush offense with 148.8 yards per game.
For the fourth time this season, the Seahawks will face a Top-10 rush defense with Minnesota coming in at No. 7 allowing 99.2 yards per game.
There is a little bit of hope here. In week 12, when Seattle visited Carolina, a top 10 rush defense, the Seahawks only put up 75 yards on the ground. However, the pass game bailed them out and the Seahawks stole a win over the Panthers 30-27. Last week, was more of a similar story against the San Francisco 49ers. While the Seahawks did put up 43 points over their division rival, only six of those points came on the ground (rookie running back Rashaad Penny 20-yard touchdown run).
Regardless, the ground game, lead by Penny and Chris Carson, who has jumped Mike Davis for the two-spot, must get going early.
When the Vikings have the ball
Pass, pass, pass. Attack this young Seahawks secondary while simultaneously avoiding linebacker Bobby Wagner. The Vikings are No. 30 in the league in rushing (86.1 yards per game), so the pass game will have to show up. With Wagner wreaking havoc on opposing ground games, the Vikings must utilize receivers speedy Stefon Diggs and sure-handed Adam Thielen.
Minnesota comes in as No. 7 in the league in pass yards while Thielen is second in the league is receiving yards (97.2).
The Seattle defense will have its hands full trying to contain these two. Do as the New England Patriots did last week in their 24-10 win over the Vikings, and hold the two to a combined 77 yards.
"You watch them, they pass a lot," says linebacker Bobby Wagner. "We need to really be on our keys. A lot of it is just quick game, not too many shots down the field, so it's just going to test our discipline. How patient can we be?"
The connection between Diggs, Thielen and quarterback Kirk Cousins is one of the best in the league right now.
"They seem extremely well connected with Cousins," says Pete Carroll at Thursday's practice. "The intricacies of the things they are running, the timing that they're able to show consistently, it's really good stuff. The guys come through and make the catches. They are both good after the catch. They both get down the field... They have all that ability in them so that just makes them really hard and the QB knows it. They seem to have hooked up well with the quarterback too. The execution is as good as you can get."
And that execution is seen in the stats. Diggs and Thielen have a combined 186 catches for 2,005 yards and 15 touchdowns this season alone. This will be quite a test for a young Seahawks secondary coming off giving up over 400 passing yards to San Francisco rookie quarterback Nick Mullens.
The Seahawks are riding a three-game win-streak. I can’t emphasize momentum enough, especially in the game of football. Under the lights of Monday Night Football, in front of 60,000+ screaming 12s wearing their action green uniforms, I don’t see the Seahawks losing this one.
With Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins completing 71.3 percent of his passes, this will be a big test for the Seahawks’ secondary. I believe Seattle will get the job done on the offensive side of the ball in both the air and on the ground.
Final Score: Minnesota 23, Seattle 31.