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Vikings-Seahawks Preview: Will Seattle Stand up to Minnesota’s Cover 4-Based Defense?

The Seahawks have historically struggled against a Cover 4-based defense, which the Vikings effectively run.

Three things to watch as Minnesota visits Seattle on Monday Night Football...

1. For years Seattle’s offense has struggled against Cover 4 defense, which is a matchup-zone coverage where the outside corners and inside safeties are each responsible for one-fourth of the field back deep. But teams didn’t seem to notice Seattle’s Cover 4 struggles until around this point last season, when the Jaguars and Rams exploited them. Cover 4 posed challenges because the Seahawks, themselves having a Cover 3 defense for so many years, rarely faced Cover 4 in the offseason. Plus, with four quasi-zone defenders back deep, there were more responders for when Russell Wilson ran around. Why do we tell this story? Because the Vikings have football’s most dedicated and effective Cover 4-based defense.

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2. Receivers Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Doug Baldwin and, ascendingly, Tyler Lockett are as sharp as anyone in football in executing the details of their releases off the line of scrimmage. The Vikings guys are at their best releasing on vertical routes, while the Seahawks guys (mainly Baldwin) are best when releasing on horizontal routes. The nuance and control in their footwork and hips is nearly perfect.

3. One reason Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo might not be running the ball as much as some (including Mike Zimmer) like is Minnesota’s offensive line is not a physically strong unit. It’s more agile than powerful. With agile linemen, screen passes, swing passes and quick throws to the perimeter become enticing substitutes for traditional handoffs. With Thielen and especially Diggs and Dalvin Cook, Minnesota has three bona-fide perimeter weapons.

Bold Prediction: Thielen will line up on the left side much of the night and run dig routes against right corner Tre Flowers, who last week against San Francisco struggled against those routes, much like he did early in the season.

Score Prediction: Vikings 27, Seahawks 20