A huge matchup in the NFC playoff race takes center stage on Monday Night Football in Week 14 as the Seattle Seahawks host the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field. Kickoff is set for 8:15pm EST on December 10th. The Seahawks opened as slight 3.0-point favorites.
The Vikings are averaging a middling 22.9 points per game (18th). But they could very easily enter the upper tier if they’d just stop turning the ball over. Minnesota has committed 18 turnovers this season (22nd).
Errant Kirk Cousins passes have been the root of an intolerable nine of those giveaways, and he threw to costly picks in last week’s loss to the Patriots (24-10), arguably his worst game of the season.
Per @PFF, Cousins faced a significantly lower amount of pressure vs. Pats (28.3 percent). But, “didn’t complete a single one of his six deep passes (two of which resulted in interceptions); in fact, just four of his 32 completions traveled 10 yards or more in the air downfield.”
— Brian Hall (@MNBrianHall) December 3, 2018
Protecting the rock will be crucial for Cousins and the Vikings the rest of the season. So will getting the run-game going. Minnesota ranks third-last in rushing at just 86.1 YPG.
Minnesota’s defense is built to stop the run. They only spot their opponent 99.2 yards per game on the ground (7th), compared to 228.6 through the air (9th). The Vikings’ stinginess against the run has resulted in them allowing only 22.5 PPG (14th).
Vikings vs Seahawks Statistical Comparison
|22.9 (18th)||PPG||26.6 (9th)|
|360.9 (16th)||YPG||353.3 (19th)|
|86.1 (30th)||Rushing YPG||148.8 (1st)|
|274.8 (7th)||Passing YPG||204.4 (26th)|
|22.5 (14th)||PPG Allowed||21.6 (T9th)|
|327.8 (6th)||YPG Allowed||367.4 (19th)|
|99.2 (7th)||Rushing YPG Allowed||116.8 (17th)|
|228.6 (9th)||Passing YPG Allowed||250.7 (19th)|
|+1 (T16th)||Turnover Differential||+11 (T2nd)|
Minnesota’s defense is in tough this week against a Seattle offense that has found its stride. The driving force behind the Seahawks, who have scored at least 27 points in four straight, has been their rushing attack. Averaging 32.6 PPG since Week 9, they have boosted their PPG to 26.6 (9th in the NFL).
Chris Carson (704 yards) has led the charge on the ground, helping Seattle record a league-best 148.8 rushing yards per game.
This isn’t to suggest Russell Wilson has been lousy, though. In fact, he’s been great. The coaching staff just hasn’t asked him to do nearly as much as last year. Wilson has thrown for 2,716 yards with a 29:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has an otherworldly 115.5 passer rating, 20 points higher than last year when he set records for total offense.
Russell Wilson has scored 29 of his team’s 30 TDs, has produced 82% of his team’s total offense, and has more total yards himself than EIGHT other NFL *teams*. Hands down the league #MVP
— Joe Cameron (@jcammusic) December 10, 2017
The fact that Seattle wants to take the ball away from Wilson sheds light on just how forceful their rushing attack is.
On the other side of the ball, Seattle’s defense has been very good. They’re giving up just 21.6 points per game, ranking 9th in the NFL. This is what happens when your defense has no major weaknesses. The Seahawks allow 250.7 passing yards per game (19th) and 116.8 rushing (17th). Nothing will come easy for Kirk Cousins and company this week.
The last meeting between these two came in the 2016 playoffs, when Seattle edged Minnesota 10-9 thanks to Blair Walsh missing a chip-shot field goal with 22 seconds remaining. The Seahawks were 4.5-point road favorites in that game.