Russell Wilson is having an MVP caliber year. Through four games little has been done to truly slow him down. His 360 yards for 2 touchdowns and an interception against the Dolphins last week was his least impressive game, and I think most starting quarterbacks in the league would gladly take that outing. The true height he reached this early season was against a strong New England Patriot defense on Sunday Night Football where he threw 5 touchdowns against what was likely the best secondary that he will face all year.
The Minnesota Vikings know that they will have their hands full dealing with him as a passer. Their pass defense hasn’t been good this season, and they should expect Seattle to try taking advantage. Mike Zimmer’s defense has done a good job against Russell in the past, and they will need to dig back into those game plans in this one. Simply, expect them to use their star safeties to help stop Russell from cooking. It will be a tall task.
On the flip side, the Vikings offense features their own cook, and that is star running back Dalvin Cook. Their game plan will likely be centered around their do-everything running back. Yes, they have enough talent at quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end to beat you other ways, but really, this offense is all about Cook running and catching. They will see a Seattle defense that is without it’s star safety Jamal Adams, and they will see that linebacker Cody Barton did not have a good game against the Dolphins, and I think they are going to try to get the ball into the hands of Cook to allow him to make his plays early and often.
While Seattle has been fairly stout against the run, this thinned out defense will also have to contend with some talented Viking receivers and tight ends. Seattle defenders must tackle well in this one, and they must do a good job keeping passing plays in front of them. Making Kirk Cousins dink and dunk down the field is likely what they will want to do. Just don’t give up the big runs, and limit the big pass plays. This will be their main task.
Keys To A Seahawk Victory
Russell cooks by taking what the Viking defenders give him. The whole league knows how much Russell Wilson love the deep ball. A key to defending his deep ball is getting great safety play on the back end, and an athletic linebacker spying on him. The Viking defense has played against him well in the recent past because they have players that fit this formula. If he gets caught up chasing too many deep passes, this could be another rougher outing against this defense, but considering that the weakness of the 2020 Viking defense is at corner and depth at linebacker, this might be a game that he uses a short and quicker passing attack to his advantage. He did this well against the Patriots a few Sunday nights ago. He could have plenty of opportunity to continue this approach against this Viking squad that might be more concerned about the potential of his deep ball.
Chris Carson and others get going in the run game. Rain is likely to be a thing in this game, and historically, Russell Wilson hasn’t always been at his best in wet games. If it gets wet, this will be the first game of the season Russ and his pass catchers will deal with these conditions. Considering that the Viking defense has additionally not been great at stopping the run, this could be the game to really get Carson cooking with the rock. Russell will still likely attack this defense with deep passing, but the benefit out of it might be more to soften them up for the run game. Expect Carson and other backs to also factor in with check down passes and screens. If Carson has a big night, Seattle probably wins fairly handily.
The Seahawk defenders tackle well enough in space. This is not a great match to be without Jamal Adams, Jordyn Brooks, and Bruce Irvin. A big benefit to Seattle would be if Brooks is healthy enough to play and factor in. Minnesota loves to run it’s offense with a traditional two receiver and two back look with a pass catching tight end. Looking at Seattle’s defense, this is how I would attack it, especially with how poorly Cody Barton played at linebacker against the Dolphins. If Barton is on the field, he must tackle better against Dalvin Cook. Don’t be surprised if newly acquired defensive tackle Snacks Harrison plays in this one to help keep these Seattle linebackers clean to make plays. Don’t be surprised if Seattle gets Brooks on the field if they think he is healthy enough to get some snaps. His strength is against the run. If Seattle can slow Cooks, this would be huge.
Seattle gets big nights out of Jarran Reed, Benson Mayowa, and Alton Robinson. I have a sneaking feeling that they are going to activate Damon Snacks Harrison. His presence on the field will not only help Seattle linebackers, it would likely help keep Jarran Reed fresher to rush the passer from the interior. The Minnesota offensive line can give up pressure from inside and they are weak at right tackle. Benson Mayowa had a solid game rushing the passer against the Dolphins, so if Seattle can get Minnesota in third and long, he and Alton Robinson could enjoy big nights. Kirk Cousins is not a great quarterback when he feels the pressure. If this scenario plays out, it wouldn’t surprise me if each of these players come out of this game with sacks.
Seattle’s defense continues to create turnovers. If the game is wet, and Seattle continues to play bend don’t break and invites Cousins to take the underneath passes, which he is prone to take, this could create opportunities to create turn overs. This would be an opportunity for KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner to jar the ball loose while barrelling down on pass catchers and ball carriers. This would give Seattle safeties and corners the opportunity to anticipate where the ball is going to make plays on the ball. Like Ryan Fitzpatrick last week, Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback to play bend don’t break with. If the check down is there, he will likely take it. This is a game of cat and mouse that Seattle defenders can win, if they are on top of their game.
How Seattle Can Loose This One
Seattle has a rough night containing Dalvin Cook and that opens up the play book for Cousins for a shootout. Minnesota’s offense has not had a statistically great start to this season, but they have played better in recent games with the emergence of rookie receiver Justin Jefferson factoring in. If for some reason, Seattle cannot slow down Cook, if they get gashed up the middle, if they miss tackles in space, if they keep Cousins in third and manageable, Minnesota has enough talent on offense to win a shootout against Russell Wilson, if Wilson doesn’t have a particularly sharp game, or perhaps even if he does.
If Russell Wilson has a stinker, and the Vikings find a way to slow down Chris Carson and Seattle’s other runners, this is the best way for the Vikings to win. The chance of this happening is probably pretty thin, but you know, .. any given Sunday.
Seattle holds off the Vikings in a fun Sunday Night match-up, and they go 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, winning 41-33.
It’s likely going to be a wet night of football, and it goes against my instincts to predict a high scoring affair, but both defenses will be without key defenders, and both offenses feature a lot of fire power. Therefore, I think each team scores a number of points here.
Another key for an exciting match up is that both teams also have a lot to play for. Minnesota will scrap to get back into the NFC North race, and will likely play with a degree of desperation and intensity. Seattle will fight to further hang onto its NFC West supremacy, which is perhaps the toughest division in football, and they will want a buffer of wins to distance themselves from the Rams, 49ers, and Cardinals. Expect a dog fight in this one.
I think a big difference maker in this one is that Seattle’s defense is much better at stopping the run than Minnesota’s, and Minnesota’s offense has not been very good on third downs. Minnesota will likely do enough to move the ball between the twenties, but when Seattle starts defending the red zone, where they have statistically been good, this leads to Minnesota settling for field goals, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kirk Cousins turn the ball over against this bend don’t break Seattle defense a time or two once he gets down in there.
Then when you also factor in that the Minnesota defense has had a difficult time stopping both the pass and run, this likely spells another big night for the Seattle offense. Seattle can beat you with the run and they can beat you with the pass, and I think they are likely to do it with both in this one.
At least, this is how I see it anyway.