Preview: Vikings Vs. Seahawks (Dec. 10) Monday Night Football Game Has Huge NFC Wild Card Implications
One of the most thrilling weekends of the 2018 NFL season saw several playoff contenders hitting walls (four of the AFC’s top teams took a loss on Sunday) down the stretch and in-the-hunt teams stealing victories. It sets the table for a critical December, with one of the more narrow playoff races in recent years, and an even more critical playoff-staked matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football.
Just one-half of a game behind the Seahawks, (7- 5) the Vikings (6-5-1) sit squarely in position as the second wild-card team in the NFC but can vault up to the more secure first spot if they can get a win on Monday, according to a Washington Post study. As currently seeded, the Vikings have a 38% chance to make the playoffs altogether, and a nine percent chance to win the NFC North. With a win, their playoff odds explode to a staggering 90%, and a significantly better chance to secure the division and the fifth playoff spot.
The fate of the biggest game of the season for Minnesota begins with its ferocious defensive line and its ability to contain Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has been sensational in recent games, stumping some of the NFL’s most formidable teams in the process. The front four, led by Linval Joseph, Stephen Weatherly, Danielle Hunter and Sheldon Richardson, is quite possibly the league’s best, and they’ll need to play like it to ensure their season continues through the new year.
A team that goes against the fray of the new-age NFL, the Seahawks make no mistake in establishing the run early on and all throughout the entirety of their games. The team went for 32 rushing attempts in eight of their previous ten games and surpassed 150 rushing yards in seven consecutive games during as single stretch this season. That’s good for a team record, and heavy enough to make even one of the largest humans on Earth feel full.
“We have a full plate,” said edge man Weatherly about the Seahawks’ bruising running attack and the prospect of controlling Wilson. That chock-full plate can be the Vikings’ for the taking if a disruption is made, considering the defense’s ability to disarray offenses and control entire games. “Those games are usually fun,” Richardson said. And that’s exactly what it’ll be if the Vikings offense is able to hold the ball and compose itself without desperately heaving the ball downfield in efforts to even the score, and instead mediates with its own rushing attack of the recently returned Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray.
Wilson, the elusive genius, has never lost to the Vikings. He has overcome several testing scenarios that have tossed Minnesota fans into fits of misery, (see: 2016 NFC Wild Card Game) and that could continue if he finds a way to avoid the large men in purple. In an NFL weekend that has seen no shortage of trend disruptions and throttling upsets, a more evenly matched game could end in success for the team that needs it just a little bit more if its best players are able to play like they’re hungry.
Monday night’s game in Seattle will air at 8:15 p.m. EST on ESPN.