The Vikings are invading the Pacific Northwest this week on Monday Night Football, which features a fierce battle between two teams determined to hold onto their current Wild Card positions.
The Seahawks are trying to repel the marauders, while the Vikings are tasked with stopping the best running team in the league and winning a road game in the loudest stadium in the NFL.
Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1) at Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
Kickoff: 5:15pm PT
Location: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
Point Spread: Seattle -3
Seattle is riding a three-game winning streak, but the Vikings have lost three out of their last five games.
Say whatever you want about Kirk Cousins’ roller-coaster ride with the Washington Redskins, but thus far in Minnesota, Cousins has delivered.
Cousins (23 TD, 9 INT, and 3,490 yards) is completing a career-high71.3 percent of his passes. Sure, it helps the effort when you have two outstanding receivers with Adam Thielen (98 receptions, 9 TDs) and Stefon Diggs (84 receptions, 6 TDs). If you stop one, the other will beat you.
According to Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, “They seem extremely well connected with Cousins. The intricacies of the things that they’re running, the timing that they’re able to show consistently on really good concept stuff. The guys come through and make the catches, they’re both good after the catch, they both get down the field. They’re possession guys, they’re down-the-field guys, they have all that ability in them. The execution is as good as it gets.”
Thielen jumped out to an amazing start this season with 100 or more receiving yards in eight straight games. He’s since cooled off in the second half of the year, yet he’s still the main focal point for opposing defenses.
HC Versus OC
John DeFilippo, the offensive coordinator for the Vikings, is next up in line to obtain a NFL head coaching job next season. Right now, DeFilippo is ensconced in a major tiff with current head coach Mike Zimmer.
When asked about how to fix the offense after a loss to the Chicago Bears, a blunt Zimmer told the press, “Run the ball more.”
The biggest problem with the Vikings offense is their running game, or rather, the lack thereof. The Vikes are the third-worst rushing team in the NFL averaging only 86.1 yards per game.
When Dalvin Cook missed time, veteran RB Latavius Murray (466 yards, 5 TDs) stepped in as a valuable replacement. When you combined Cook and Murray’s stats, they average 4.2 yards per carry. Now that Cook is healthy, the Vikes continued to shy away from the running game, which is what angered Zimmer.
Made in Seattle
During the apex of the Legion of Boom when they were Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks were unbeatable at home. This season, the Seahawks are only 3-2. However, both losses were at the hands of the LA Chargers and the top team in the NFC, the LA Rams.
The Seahawks’ “12th man” comes into play on Monday Night, when the deafening crowd noise will try to disrupt Kirk Cousins and the rest of the Vikings. Overall, the Seahawks only give up 21.6 points per game. They boast a Top 10 defense and are tied for ninth in points allowed.
The Legion of Boom is nevermore, but Pete Carroll transformed a rag-tag group of young players into a strong unit. The secondary started out hot, but has since yielded an alarming amount of yardage in recent games. Two weeks ago against the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton shredded the Seahawks in the first half. Last week, the porous secondary allowed San Francisco backup QB Nick Mullens to light them up for 400+ yards.
The pass D dropped to #19 overall, allowing 250.7 yards per game. Now, they face a highly-efficient Kirk Cousins and the best WR tandem in the league.
Sea-Tac Ground Attack
Pete Carroll relies on his running back by committee, with Rashard Penny and Chris Carson, and the dynamic duo generates the top rushing attack in the league. The Seahawks are averaging 148.8 yards per game, which is 62 yards more per game than the Vikings.
The Vikings boast a balanced defense that is currently ranked #9 in both rushing yards allowed and passing yards allowed. Their Top 10 rushing D will be tasked with trying to slow down the Carson/Penny one-two combo punch.
Wilson Heating Up
Russell Wilson (29 TD, 5 INTs) isn’t flinging the ball around 30-35 times a game and he’s not racking up the 300-plus games like Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees. However, the evasive Wilson can still generate points at an efficient rate.
Last week, Wilson threw four touchdowns in a methodical performance. Wilson surgically completed 11 of 17 yards and four of his completions were touchdown strikes.
A rusty Wilson tossed three picks in his first two games of the season, but has been near flawless since with only 2 picks in his last 10 games.