Much of what’s made Seattle so formidable at home over the years — the “Legion of Boom,” the “12th Man” — won’t be at the Seahawks’ disposal, and the Vikings’ offense can make some big plays against a Seattle defense that’s struggling. But the biggest reason the Seahawks are undefeated is a quarterback who’s having the best season of his career, and Russell Wilson will make the difference in a close game.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Dalvin Cook vs. ‘Let Russ Cook’
The Vikings have run the ball more often than almost any team in the league during neutral game situations (when they’re not trying to run out the clock or throw on every down to come back, in other words). They’ll face a Seahawks team that’s gone from a run-heavy offense to an aggressive downfield passing game. Wilson might be the league MVP through the first quarter of the season and will test the Vikings’ young secondary.
No ‘12s’ for this trip to Seattle
For the third straight year, the Vikings will play a prime-time game at CenturyLink Field — but this time, they’ll do so without having to navigate the stadium’s famously noisy environment. The Seahawks won’t have their “12th Man” at their disposal, with no fans being admitted to the stadium, so the Vikings’ trip to one of the league’s loudest venues will be strangely quiet.
Vikings try to keep offense rolling
After surpassing 30 points against the Titans and Texans, the Vikings could find some success against a young Seattle defense that hasn’t been as stout as in past years. The Seahawks are starting a number of young corners and have allowed more yards than any team in the league.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings secondary vs. Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf
The Vikings have started three different players at right cornerback — Cameron Dantzler, Holton Hill and Jeff Gladney — and whoever starts there on Sunday will have a tough matchup with Metcalf, who’s become Wilson’s favorite downfield target. The Vikings have used split safeties early this season to help their young corners, and could look to keep Harrison Smith or Anthony Harris back in coverage in an attempt to bottle up Metcalf.
Vikings RB Dalvin Cook vs. Seahawks
LB Bobby Wagner
It’s simplistic to call this a one-on-one matchup, especially given how much both lines of scrimmage will be involved in dictating how successful the Vikings are in the run game on Sunday night. But if Cook is the focal point of the Vikings offense, the same can be said of Wagner on the Seahawks defense. The Vikings will want to know where the active middle linebacker is, while trying to find some of the success other teams have had throwing at Wagner.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
7 Touchdown passes that have traveled at least 20 yards in the air for Wilson. No other quarterback in the NFL has more than four, according to Pro Football Focus.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF …
Their secondary can make a sizable jump, and do it quickly, to slow down Wilson and the Seahawks’ prolific passing game. The Vikings will likely try to control the game with Cook, but Seattle’s ability to create big plays means it can score plenty of points even without an edge in possession time. In what could be a shootout, the Vikings secondary will have to be able to hold up; Wilson holds the ball longer than almost any QB in the league.
THE SEAHAWKS WILL WIN IF …
Wilson can find throwing windows downfield the way he has all season, and their secondary can keep the Vikings from staying close now that Kirk Cousins is clicking with both Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. Seattle has given up 20 plays of 20 yards or more (the same number as the Vikings), and the Vikings have created 19 plays of 20 yards or more (the same number as the Seahawks).
Prediction: Seahawks, 34-30