5 Matchups to Watch as Seahawks Battle Vikings on Monday Night Football
Seeking a fifth straight victory to move into first place in the NFC West, the Seahawks will face a formidable foe in the Vikings on Monday Night Football.
With the winner of this prime time contest moving closer to a potential bye in the postseason, which five matchups will have the greatest impact in a Week 13 showdown at CenturyLink Field?
--Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs vs. Seahawks cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers: Minnesota will be without star receiver Adam Thielen for a third straight game, meaning Diggs should be an even bigger focal point for quarterback Kirk Cousins. Last year, Griffin and Flowers had a coming of age game defending against the dynamic duo, helping hold the Vikings to just seven points. Even without Thielen available, Diggs still posted 121 receiving yards and a touchdown against the Broncos two weeks ago and it’ll be tough for the Seahawks to replicate the success they had against him a year ago. Keep an especially close eye on Diggs with Griffin in coverage against him, as it should be a tasty matchup between two potential All-Pro performers.
--Seahawks tackles Duane Brown and Germain Ifedi vs. Vikings defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen: Overall, Minnesota’s pass rush hasn’t been quite as imposing as previous seasons, but the duo of Hunter and Griffen remains among the league’s best. They’ve combined to produce 26 quarterback hurries, 15.5 sacks, and 58 pressures through 11 games. Seattle’s offensive line has improved in pass pro as the year has progressed, but Brown and Ifedi will be challenged as much as any game they’ve played this season trying to keep Minnesota’s two outstanding edge rushers away from quarterback Russell Wilson. Keeping them in check could be the difference between a win and a loss.
--Vikings running back Dalvin Cook vs. Seahawks linebackers Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks: Fully healthy for the first time in his NFL career, Cook already has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in Minnesota’s balanced offensive attack, including rushing for 549 yards after contact. He’s also established career-bests in receptions (45) and receiving yards (455), making him a concern out of the backfield on screens and swing routes. Seattle has endured some issues stopping quality receiving running backs occasionally this year, including allowing Alvin Kamara to go wild in Week 3. Swarming multiple defenders to Cook will be crucial to limit his yards after contact as a runner and finishing tackles in space will be critical for Seattle’s linebackers when he catches the ball.
--Seahawks receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf vs. Vikings cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes: Minnesota has one of the league’s best defenses, giving up less than 17 points per game. But if there’s a weakness for the Vikings on that side of the ball, it’s been inconsistent play from their cornerbacks, which explains why the team has given up the sixth-most air yards (1,884) this season. Rhodes and Waynes have been particularly vulnerable against double moves, and if Wilson has the time to throw and allow such routes to develop, the Seahawks could have a major advantage on offense with Lockett and Metcalf at their best as vertical threats. Keep a close eye on tight end Jacob Hollister as well, as the Vikings have given up the sixth-most receptions (69) and 10th-most receiving yards (638) to tight ends in the league thus far.
--Vikings tackles Riley Reiff and Brian O’Neill vs. Seahawks defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah, and Shaquem Griffin: Much has changed since Seattle beat Minnesota last December, including a new offensive scheme with offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. But from a personnel standpoint, the Vikings offensive line looks much the same with Reiff and O’Neill maintaining starting jobs at both tackle spots. Last year, both players struggled against the Seahawks active pass rush, allowing Cousins to get hit seven times and sacked twice, including a late strip-sack by Jacob Martin that resulted in a fumble returned for a touchdown by Justin Coleman. Martin enjoyed his finest game in Seattle during that game and Griffin could have a similar impact in rematch, especially with Ansah finding his groove and Clowney back in the fold after missing one week with a core injury.