The Baltimore Ravens did the Seahawks a huge favor on Sunday, beating the San Francisco 49ers, 20-17. That means Seattle would move into first place in the NFC West with a win on Monday night against the Vikings. Each team would have a 10-2 record with the Seahawks owning the tiebreaker given their head-to-head win in Week 10.
What’s potentially more important is that San Francisco’s loss gives the Seahawks some room for error. Seattle can now drop one of their next four games (Vikings, Rams, Panthers, Cardinals) and still control their own destiny with a win against the 49ers in Week 17.
As you gear up for primetime, here are five Seahawks players who will play pivotal roles against the Vikings on Monday Night Football.
1. DE Jadeveon Clowney
Last time we saw Clowney, it was also on a Monday night, when he dominated the 49ers. He suffered a core injury in that game, however, that is sports hernia-related. Pete Carroll said that Clowney is “ready to go” against the Vikings after missing last week’s game in Philadelphia. That said, the star pass rusher won’t be 100%, and he’s likely going to have to labor through every game for the remainder of the season. Clowney is talented enough to still make an impact, but will we see another performance like the one at Levi’s Stadium? That’s a question that could have huge implications for Seattle’s defense as a whole.
2. FS Quandre Diggs
Even without Adam Thielen, the Vikings still have a potent passing attack led by Stefon Diggs and a pair of talented tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith. Quandre Diggs has been fantastic in his two starts for Seattle. He’s had a hand in two turnovers, and the defense as a whole has taken a significant step forward. In Diggs’ two starts, Seattle has allowed just two offensive touchdowns while forcing eight turnovers and racking up eight sacks. The Seahawks will need him to be a difference maker on Monday once again. It will be crucial that he doesn’t let Stefon Diggs take the top off Seattle’s defense.
3. WR DK Metcalf
Metcalf had a down game in Philadelphia with a few costly drops, one of which cost Seattle a long touchdown. The rookie is still having an exceptional season with 38 receptions for 630 yards and five scores. Minnesota’s pass defense ranks 20th and its allowed 40 pass plays of at least 20 yards, 14th-most in the NFL. Metcalf was seen getting extra work in on the jugs machine after practice this week. He was the last player on the field by at least 15 minutes. Even though Seattle’s defense has been much better of late, the Vikings offense is good enough to put up points. The Seahawks will need to keep pace, and they’ll need Metcalf to have a big game in order to do so.
4. DT Poona Ford
With Clowney and Jarran Reed (ankle) banged up, Ford will be an important figure on Monday night against Dalvin Cook. The Vikings running back already has 1,017 rushing yards on the season as Minnesota boasts the third-ranked running game. Ford has a Pro Football Focus run defense grade of 74.1 on the season. Seattle’s three starting linebackers will also be tasked with covering Cook as a pass catcher. Cook has 45 receptions for 455 yards this season.
5. DE Ziggy Ansah
Has Ansah really turned the corner, or was his 1.5-sack performance against the Eagles an aberration? He was fantastic against the Eagles – far better than he’d been at any other point in the season. Carroll indicated that the bye week helped Ansah add additional weight and strength. The emergence of Shaquem Griffin likely pushed Ansah a bit as well. Whatever the factors, Seattle needs Ansah to be the player they saw in Philly, especially with Clowney playing hurt. We’ll find out against the Vikings if Ansah can make it two stellar performances in a row.