Monday Night Football Preview
Seahawks -2.5 | Over/Under 45.5
As we near the pointy end of the regular season, most matchups have some sort of playoff implication. This is especially true when the Minnesota Vikings travel west to take on the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football. There’s just a half game separating these two sides vying for a wildcard spot, but they’re on vastly different trajectories to get there. Seattle is surging, winning three in a row. Minnesota though, have lost two of their last three games. Seattle leads this series ledger 10-5, with the last meeting being a 10-9 Seahawks victory in the 2015 NFC playoffs.
Vikings at Seahawks
Seahawks -2.5 | Over/Under 45.5
Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1)
As mentioned, the Vikings are heading the wrong way as they look to lock up a post-season appearance. Last weeks 24-10 loss to Patriots was highlighted by the verbal altercation between gun wider receiver, Adam Thielen, and super coach, Bill Belichick. The frustrations are bubbling for a team that was one win away from hosting Superbowl 52 and was predicted to contend for the Lombardi trophy in February. If they want a chance to do that, a win here would be a huge boost.
Why They Will Win
The Vikings offense has never really got going in 2018. The rushing game is practically non-existent, ranking 30th in the NFL. A big part of that is that Dalvin Cook has missed significant portions of the season, but another part is that passing game is carrying the team. They rank 7th in that area, which isn’t surprising when you look at who features.
Kirk Cousins was the big recruit in the offseason, cashing in on his great Redskins tenure to sign a three year, $84 million deal. Cousins has had an impressive start to his Minnesota tenure, and he’s been helped along the way by the best receiving duo in the league. Adam Thielen (98) and Stefon Diggs (84) are the only pair of teammates in the NFC with at least 80 receptions each. There have only been two occasions this year when one of them has failed to reach 100 yards when both have taken the field. Thielen’s 98 total catches paces the NFL in that stat and is third most in NFL history to this point in the year. And these guys will be facing a pass defense that has allowed 315 pass yards a game during their three-game win streak. It’s hard to believe that streak will carry on.
And Why They Won’t
The Seahawks’ season had a slow start but got running when they did. It actually surprised me to see that they are the number 1 running team in the league. This team is tallying 148.8 rushing yards per game this year, which beats out second-placed teams Carolina and Houston by eight yards. You might turn around and tell me that the Vikings are a good rushing defense, they are ranked 7th, only allow 99.2 ypg and have let in just right scores on the ground. All true, but over the last three games against the Patriots, Packers, and Bears, those numbers have expanded to 130 yards and one touchdown a week. And that sort of combination creates time and space for the passing game to get going. Then it doesn’t matter how good your defense is, you won’t slow them down. For Minnesota to compete, they need to shut down the Seattle run game early, which includes Russell Wilson.
Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
The Seattle Seahawks are winners of three straight games as they make a late season push towards a playoff berth, including key games over NFC wildcard hopefuls, Carolina and Green Bay. They also just gave San Francisco a beat down last weekend, running out convincing winners by a score of 43-16. The Seahawks have had a lot of success over Minnesota in recent times, winning the previous three meetings by an average margin of over 20 points. Seattle also loves to play under the bright lights of primetime football. Since 2010, the franchise has had 30 games on a Thursday, Sunday or Monday night. They’re recorded in those: 24-5-1.
Why They Will Win
In a week in which quarterback Kyler Murray of the Oklahoma Sooners won the Heisman trophy and then became a first-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics (baseball), it’s another dual-sport athlete who is tearing up the NFL. It’s the Russell Wilson show. Wilson has this team running smoothly. He has 29 touchdowns against just five interceptions in 2018. He’s throwing scores at will at the moment, with at least two in each of his past eight games. In fact, he’s failed to throw multiple scores just once this season. In that demolition of the 49ers, he had just four completed passes before halftime. Three of them were touchdowns. Wilson also has six touchdown passes of 30 yards or more.
Wilson isn’t running as much as we’ve become accustomed to seeing, but it could be that the run game is creating indecision for defensive coordinators and pass rushers, allowing his offensive line better opportunity to protect him and more time to pick out the right pass. Whatever it is, it’s working, and Seattle will be relying on DangerRuss to the momentum rolling.
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And Why They Won’t
I’m calling revenge game for two of Minnesota’s defensive tackles. In the past year and a bit, both of Sheldon Richardson and Tom Johnson have donned the Seahawks navy, green and gray. Richardson spent the 2017 season with Seattle before signing with the Vikings over the offseason. Minnesota offered Richardson an $8 million contract, with incentives, that proved too rich for the Seahawks to match.
Johnson was a Viking for the first four years of his career but signed with Seattle over the offseason, seeing the two men trading places. However, Johnson’s time there ended after just one game. Seattle cut him to make room on the 53-man roster for safety Shalom Luani. A few days later, he signed back with Minnesota. Later, Pete Carroll admitted that the franchise wanted the 34-year old back.
Both scenarios provide the DT’s with extra incentive to get one up on the franchise that let them go. Getting into the backfield and causing headaches for the quarterback and running backs will be sweet revenge.
The quarterbacks will decide this one. Wilson is having an MVP type season, and with Drew Brees faltering over the past few games, he might just have placed himself in contention. While Kirk Cousins currently leads the league with 350 completions, ranks 6th with 3,490 yards passing and has the second-most yards passing through 12 games in franchise history, behind one Warren Moon who had 3,511 in 1994. That’s some nice company. It will be a fascinating battle between two of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL.
The game is in Seattle and the ever-present 12th man will be in full voice. The line is just 2.5 points here suggesting that it could go either way. Both teams have the potential to push deep into the playoffs and both are exciting to watch. But I’ll go with the hometown team by a straight kick.
Final: Seattle 24, Minnesota 21
Monday Night Football Betting Tips
The Vikings ATS record matches the winning one, 6-5-1. Seattle goes just a bit better with 7-3-2. The problem with these records is that Seattle are the only team beating anyone of significance. They’ve won five of their past eight games and have a 6-1-1 ATS record in those games. Two of the three losses have been against the Rams and Chargers too, no shame in that. But of the Vikings six wins this season at the line, five have been against San Francisco, Arizona, New York Jets, Detroit and Green Bay. Coming into week 14, those teams had 16 wins combined.
Total Points Over/Under
On the over/under market, these sides are a combined 11-13. It’s almost even money, with the under just taking the chocolates. But really, there’s nothing in it. It’s a coin toss. They could play out a defensive battle, or put on an offensive show, ala Rams-Chiefs (ok, not that good). I’m taking a flat guess and saying it will be under, but not by much.
Seattle -2.5 (-110), Total Points Under 45.5 (-110)
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