Tonight’s Monday Night Football game is important on a number of levels. The most obvious, of course, is that the Seattle Seahawks will be in the lead in the NFC West if they can take down the Minnesota Vikings tonight. This comes thanks to the Baltimore Ravens, who pulled off a last-minute game-winning field goal for a 20-17 win.
The Seahawks are hoping to come out on top tonight to take the lead of the division, but for other reasons, as well. A loss would put them in last seed for the playoffs, making them still questionable, and a win would also give them an opportunity to have a first-round bye in the postseason.
This isn’t going to be an easy game. The Vikings have a lot at stake, as well. They’re in a great spot to pick up a Wild Card entry into the playoffs and a win tonight keeps them up there with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. A victory tips the scales in the Vikings’ favor, and they understand all too well what’s at stake.
Where the Seahawks have a real chance tonight is in their passing game. The Vikings have a passing defense that has been easy to get around and the outside corners are not as protected as they should be. Tyler Lockett, one of the Seahawks’ primary wide receivers, has been able to prove his versatility across the entire line and, provided he’s healthy enough to play tonight, will be a regular target. Chris Carson, Lockett’s cohort in the same position, is another favorite target, but he should expect to be covered as much as possible.
Of course, if the Seahawks try to keep the ball on the ground, though, things could get tough. Minnesota has proved to be a true defense against the run and is currently fourth in the league. This is going to make it difficult for the Seahawks, who will be forced to shift and create new strategies on the fly to avoid losing ground.
Looking at how the Seahawks might contain the Vikings, it becomes obvious that Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph is going to have to be stopped. This shouldn’t be too difficult for Seattle’s linebackers and safeties, who have managed to keep offenses on their toes all season. If they can keep it up tonight, things could get interesting and turn into a low-scoring contest.
With so much strength on both defense and offense for both team, this is going to be a battle of the quarterbacks. Seahawks’ QB Kirk Cousins has been consistent since Week 5 and now has a passer rating of 114.8, the highest in the league. However, Russell Wilson is right on his heels at 112.1. Given this level of performance on both sides, it’s going to come down to who can be more consistent throughout the entire game.
If the stats say anything, the Seahawks should be able to walk away with the win easily. They’re 8-0 in December primetime and have the best winning percentage in all of MNF history at .714. In overall primetime performances, they’re 28-5-1. Of course, the stats don’t always provide the most accurate picture, and tonight’s game is going to put the record to the test.
After tonight, the Seahawks have four more games to finish the regular season. They’ll go up against the LA Rams, the Carolina Panthers, the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers, in that order. They are sitting on the edge of a perfect spot in the postseason with a win tonight, and there isn’t much reason to believe they won’t be able to pull it off.