The Vikings will have a chance to take this one if they can slow down Seattle’s top-ranked run game, but it’ll be tough against a Seahawks team that appears to be finding its stride. A team that rarely loses at home will prevail over one that’s had trouble beating quality opponents on the road.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Playoff positioning at stake
The Seahawks entered Week 14 as the NFC’s top wild-card team, a half-game ahead of the Vikings. The winner will be in strong position for a wild-card berth; the loser will be in a crowded group of teams trying to sneak into the playoffs.
Wilson a menace for Vikings
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is 4-0 in his career against the Vikings, having thrown for eight touchdowns without an interception in three regular-season victories. He also rallied Seattle from a 9-0 deficit in the Seahawks’ famous wild-card playoff victory against the Vikings in January 2016.
Richardson returns to Seattle
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson spent the 2017 season in Seattle, before choosing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Vikings over what he considered to be an unacceptable offer from the Seahawks to return. He’ll face his former team in the middle of a resurgent season that has included 3½ sacks.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett
Rhodes has been a full participant in practice all week after dealing with a hamstring injury that caused him to rotate series with Marcus Sherels against the Patriots. If the Vikings are comfortable enough with his health — and comfortable enough with their other options, given Trae Waynes was ruled out with a concussion — Rhodes could wind up shadowing Lockett, who has 44 catches for 713 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
Vikings run D vs. Seahawks ground game
Seattle is the only team in the NFL that runs the ball more often than it passes; if the Seahawks stick with their run-heavy approach, they’ll try to get the better of a run front that’s ranked seventh in the NFL, but gave up 148 and 160 rushing yards in losses to the Bears and Patriots, respectively.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
18-4 The Seahawks’ record in night games at CenturyLink Field since 2006. Only two road teams in that time — the Saints in 2007 and the Falcons last year — have won a night game in Seattle after traveling two or more time zones west.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF…
They’re able to win a battle of wills up front, as the Seahawks try to establish the run, and they can rediscover their downfield passing game against a secondary that doesn’t exactly compare to the Legion of Boom; Seattle has allowed 44 plays of 20 yards or more through the air this season.
THE SEAHAWKS WILL WIN IF…
They’re able to duplicate the Bears’ and Patriots’ success running the ball against the Vikings, give Wilson time to make plays against a secondary that is again dealing with injury issues, and coax a turnover or two from the Vikings.
Goessling's prediction: Seahawks, 23-20
Win probability: 40 percent