Monday Night Preview: Who Will Prevail in the Key NFC Clash Between the Seahawks and Vikings?
This week's edition of Monday Night Football features the 6-5-1 Minnesota Vikings traveling to face the 7-5 Seattle Seahawks. Reeling from a 24-10 loss to the New England Patriots, the Vikings will work to keep their playoff hopes alive. On the other side, Seattle enters this contest on a three-game win streak, including a 43-16 win over the San Francisco 49ers last week.
In a key matchup of playoff hopefuls, here are a few matchups each team will look to exploit throughout the contest.
On the Vikings' side, Kirk Cousins will command the league's most pass-heavy offense. To date, Cousins has 3,490 passing yards, 23 scores, and 9 interceptions. According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, he has performed at roughly an average level this season. Among 24 quarterbacks with at least 350 drop backs, Cousins' 0.11 Passing NEP per drop back ranks 15th. With the league's worst rush offense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics, the Vikings and Cousins should continue to air it out.
On the other side, Russell Wilson will command the league's most run-heavy offense. On the season, Wilson has 2,716 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Unlike Cousins, Wilson has impressed, according to NEP. Among the aforementioned group, Wilson's 0.24 Passing NEP per drop back ranks fifth in the NFL. Despite limited passing volume, Wilson's efficiency has kept his passing stats near the top of the league, though his 8.9% touchdown rate -- a career-high clip by a good margin -- is due for some negative regression.
Running Back Breakdown
After missing five games with a hamstring injury, Dalvin Cook has regained his role as Minnesota's lead back. This season, Cook has 312 rushing yards on 74 carries (4.22 yards per rush). He has played some mediocre football, according to our metrics. While he has only 74 carries this season, his -0.22 Rushing NEP per carry ranks well below the league average of 0.05. However, Cook is also a capable pass catcher, notching 27 receptions this year, creating a potential edge to exploit for Minnesota.
On the other side, the Seahawks have turned to Chris Carson as their lead back, with first-round rookie Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis mixing in as change-of-pace options. Carson, Penny and Davis have recorded Rushing NEP per carries of of 0.02, 0.05, and 0.08, respectively. With little separating these three from an efficiency perspective, the Seahawks will likely continue to roll with a combination of all three in this match, with Carson the likely lead guy.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings have an edge. Minnesota ranks 4th in overall defense while the Seahawks slot in 15th.
Minnesota currently ranks second in run defense and ninth in pass defense. Seattle, meanwhile, ranks 6th in run defense and 15th in pass defense.
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