Monday Night Football Preview: Can the Vikings Upset the Seahawks?
This week's edition of Monday Night Football features the 8-3 Minnesota Vikings traveling to Seattle to face the 9-2 Seattle Seahawks. With both teams near or at the top of their respective divisions, this matchup brings explosive potential.
The Vikings defeated the Denver Broncos 27-23 last week for their second win in a row. On the other side, Seattle defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 17-9 in a low-scoring affair. While the Seahawks look like the superior team on paper, both squads hold matchup advantages in this spot.
On the Minnesota side, Kirk Cousins continues his impressive second season with the Vikings. Cousins currently ranks fourth in the NFL with a 70.6 percent completion percentage and a 7.60 average net yards per attempt. With Minnesota running at the third-highest rate in the NFL, Cousins' efficiency continues to lead to scoring opportunities. This week, Cousins still won't have Adam Thielen alongside Stefon Diggs. According to our schedule-adjusted metrics, Seattle ranks 14th in pass defense, despite ranking 29th in passing yards allowed per game (268.7). With a favorable matchup on Monday night, Cousins looks likely to move the ball here.
On the other side, Russell Wilson continues his MVP-caliber season. Rivaling Cousins, Wilson has completed 67.3 percent of this passes (eighth) with a 7.1 net yards per attempt (ninth). Like the Vikings, Seattle runs the ball at the fifth-highest rate in the NFL, causing Wilson to rely on efficiency. This week, Wilson faces a Minnesota defense that ranks 12th against the pass, despite ranking 20th in passing yards allowed per game (244.5). Even in a projected slow, run-heavy matchup, Wilson's efficiency with Tyler Lockett should lead to a number of big plays here.
Running Back Breakdown
Heading into Week 13, Dalvin Cook ranks third in the NFL in rushing with 1,017 rushing yards. Importantly, Cook remains highly involved in Minnesota's pass game, with 45 catches on 54 targets this season. On the year, Cook ranks third in the NFL with 24.3 touches per game. With Seattle's defense ranking 15th against the run, Cook should find ample room to run on Monday night.
On the other side, Chris Carson fumbled his way into a timeshare with Rashaad Penny. With Carson already fumbling 11 times this season, Penny projects to receive more work moving forward. Last week, Penny played 49-percent of Seattle's snaps, while Carson played 51-percent. With the increased playing time, Penny also out-carried Carson 14-8, rushing for 129 yards to Carson's 26. Unfortunately, Minnesota currently ranks sixth in rushing defense, but Penny looks likely to play a role in this backfield moving forward.
On the defensive side of the ball, Minnesota ranks tenth in overall defense, while Seattle comes in 12th.
Specifically, Minnesota ranks 12th against the pass and 6th against the run. On the other side, Seattle ranks 14th against the pass and 15th against the run. Despite these numbers, both Seattle and Minnesota have struggled against the pass in recent weeks, ranking outside the top 20 in passing yards allowed per game.
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