If the Vikings are going to deliver their most important road victory in four years, they’ll have to surmount a MVP candidate who’s had their number, in a daunting environment at the end of a long trip. Russell Wilson, playing with a better receiving corps than he’s had in years, will make the difference.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Monday night sequel
Last year, after the Vikings were nearly shut out in a Monday night game at CenturyLink Field, they fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo the following morning. They’ve put their offensive identity crisis behind them this year.
Trying to win out west
The Vikings will attempt to tackle one of the most difficult assignments in the NFL: winning a prime-time game after a long trip to the West Coast. Since 2006, teams from the Central or Eastern time zones are 18-38 playing night games in the Pacific time zone.
Wilson, Cousins set for another duel
Kirk Cousins, at Michigan State, and Russell Wilson, at Wisconsin, split their two games against each other in the Big Ten. They’re both in the MVP running this year, with Cousins taking the NFL’s top passer rating into Week 13 (Wilson is second).
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings’ pass rush vs. QB Russell Wilson
There are few better at throwing outside the pocket than Wilson, who remains among the NFL’s most dynamic running quarterbacks at 31. The Vikings were unable to take advantage of a dreadful game from Wilson a year ago; they’ve likely heard all week about the need to deny Wilson escape lanes as they rush him.
Vikings RT Brian O’Neill vs. Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney is expected to play despite a core injury. If he’s active and returns to his customary role, he’ll rush from both the right and left side of the line against the Vikings. According to Pro Football Focus, 63.6 of Clowney’s rushes have come off the left side of the Seahawks’ formation, which means O’Neill will see him as much as anyone.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
18-2 The Seahawks’ record in home prime-time games since Pete Carroll became their head coach in 2010. Their two losses came against Arizona in 2015 and Atlanta in 2017.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF…
They can slow Wilson again, control Seattle’s running game, give Cousins time to work with a receiving group minus injured Adam Thielen (hamstring) and win the strength-on-strength matchups that will come when their heavy personnel packages face the Seahawks’ base defense.
THE SEAHAWKS WILL WIN IF…
Wilson gets time to create big plays against a Vikings secondary that’s given up plenty of them in recent weeks, and the Seahawks’ defense — which hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Lamar Jackson in Week 7 — can keep Dalvin Cook from controlling the game.
Goessling's prediction: Seahawks, 27-23
Win probability: 45 percent