Week 13 of the NFL season concludes with an epic matchup between two playoff-bound NFC teams on Monday night. The Minnesota Vikings (8-3, second in NFC North) visit the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Seahawks (9-2, second in NFC West). Seattle can move into a tie for first place with the 49ers with a win, just as Minnesota can maintain its first-place tie with the Packers if they win.
Here is a preview for Monday night’s game, along with odds and a pick.
By The Numbers
We’ll start with the Vikings, who have won two games in a row and four of their last five. Minnesota’s offense has come alive this season thanks to a breakout season by running back Dalvin Cook and some career numbers for quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Vikings are currently ranked sixth in total yards per game with 378.6 and seventh in points with 26.3. Thanks to Cook, they also have the third-most rushing yards per game with 142.5.
The Vikings also have a strong defense, one that ranks in the middle of the pack in yards but is sixth with just 18.6 points allowed. They’re also fifth in rushing yards allowed with 94.2, which helps make up for them being just 20th against the pass.
The Seahawks are rolling with wins in four straight games, their last loss coming back on Oct. 20. That’s, of course, largely attributed to their efficient offense, led by MVP candidate Russell Wilson, that is third in total yards per game with 385.4 and sixth in points with 26.5. Seattle is also top 10 in both rushing and passing yards per game.
Seattle’s offense makes up for a defense that has struggled at times this season, ranking 24th in yards allowed with 370.3 and 21st in points allowed with 23.9. Additionally, the Seahawks allow the fourth-most passing yards per game but are a respectable ninth in rushing yards allowed with 101.5.
Who To Watch
For Minnesota, Cook is the main player Seattle must account for. The third-year back has over 1,000 yards rushing to go along with 11 touchdowns, making him the main catalyst of the Vikings offense. But also look out for wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Diggs has stepped up with Adam Thielen missing time due to injury, reeling in five catches for 121 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ last game. Diggs is up to 880 yards and five touchdowns this season, forming a connection with Cousins that makes the Vikings even more dangerous.
All eyes will be on Wilson for the Seahawks, as the star QB has 2,937 yards and 24 touchdowns with a passer rating second to only Cousins. But perhaps the biggest difference-maker for Seattle is its defense’s ability to force turnovers. The Seahawks have forced 16 turnovers in the past six games, including eight in the past two. They now trail just New England and Pittsburgh in total takeaways with 24.
We’ll see how the defense fares Monday night against a Vikings team that has been fairly good about not turning the ball over.
We’ll start with Minnesota, which will be without Thielen once again due to a hamstring injury. Linebacker Ben Gedeon and defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes have also been ruled out for Monday night’s game. The main names to watch leading up to the game are defensive tackle Linval Joseph and safety Harrison Smith. Both are listed as questionable, but practiced in full on Saturday.
For Seattle, no one has been ruled out yet, but there are plenty of players who are questionable. Namely, pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who missed last week’s game against the Eagles with a core injury. Clowney was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday, and we’ll learn his status closer to game time. Defensive tackles Jarran Reed and Al Woods are also considered questionable.
Odds And Pick
The Seahawks have serious momentum, and that, coupled with the fact they’re at home, makes them a favorite at -3.0. This will be a good test for both teams who are each fighting for division titles. I think this will be close, but I’ll lean Seattle. Their run defense is good enough to limit Cook’s effectiveness and force Cousins to win the game, exactly what the Vikings don’t want. That, along with Wilson’s ability to extend plays and the fact he’s facing a mediocre pass defense, has me taking the Seahawks -3 to close out another great weekend of football.