There will be serious playoff implications on Monday night when the Seattle Seahawks play host to the Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks are listed as 3.5-point favorites at home with an over/under of 45.5 points.
Both teams caught a huge break over the weekend as all of the other teams in the NFC wild-card race lost. For the Seahawks, that means two wins in their final four games will most likely put themselves in the playoffs. With games left against the 49ers and Cardinals, a win Monday would be huge for their playoff hopes. It also doesn’t hurt that Seattle has won three in a row and is peaking at the right time.
The Vikings, meanwhile, know they’ll still have a hold on the second wild-card spot in the NFC whether they win or lose on Monday. Of course, a win will give them a nice cushion in the wild-card race. Minnesota’s hopes of catching the Bears in the NFC North appear slim, so a wild-card spot may be their only hope.
Strength against Strength
The Seahawks have become one of the best running teams in the NFL, averaging close to 150 yards per game on the ground. Chris Carson is the one who’s currently serving as the team’s bell-cow back, although both Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny have had their moments, giving Seattle three viable running backs. Having that kind of depth and consistency at running back has been huge for Russell Wilson. Throughout his career, Wilson has been at his best when he can run play-action, which has been the case this year with teams having to respect Seattle’s running game.
Of course, the Seahawks will have a tough test on Monday, as the Minnesota defense is one of the best in the league at stopping the run. The Vikings are allowing just 3.7 yards per carry this year, in large part because they don’t give up big plays on the ground. If they can get a handle on Seattle’s running game, the Vikings also have a formidable pass rush. That’s an area where the Seahawks have struggled at times this year, as Wilson has already been sacked 37 times this season.
Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins seemed to have put his ball security issues behind him early in the season. However, he’s back to his old ways, throwing six interceptions over the last five games. He’s thrown two picks in each of Minnesota’s last two road games, both losses for the Vikings. Obviously, that has to stop. However, in defense of Cousins, the Vikings aren’t getting enough from their running game, which is one of the worst in the NFL, putting a lot on Cousins.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks are one of the top teams in the NFL with regard to turnover differential. Part of that is because they have the fewest turnovers in the league. But the Seattle defense is also capable of creating takeaways, especially against a quarterback like Cousins, who can be careless at times. If Cousins can’t take care of the football, it’ll be tough for the Vikings to win on the road.
Too Close to Call
Despite some concerns about Cousins, the Vikings are good enough to make this a game and maybe steal a win. The Seahawks may have won three straight, but two of those games were only by a field goal. Seattle is good, but the spread being more than a field goal doesn’t play in their favor. Bet on the Vikings beating the 3.5-point spread on Monday night.