Updated: Bet Seahawks -3 vs Vikings in Minnesota
Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1 SU, 6-5-1 ATS) vs. Seattle Seahawks (7-5 SU, 7-3-2 ATS)
Date/Time: Monday, December 10, 8:15 EST
Where: Century Link Stadium, Seattle
By Keith Allen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Min +3½ / Sea -3½ (Bovada)
Over/Under Total: 45
Updated 12/10/2018: The Seahawks have been moved from -3.5 to -3 points making it more appealing to those looking to follow this selection and bet the favorite. Despite only being a half point, the 3 is the most common margin of victory in NFL football making it extremely valuable in games like these.
Monday Night Football travels to the Pacific Northwest for a week 14 contest that will have a playoff atmosphere as the Seattle Seahawks host the Minnesota Vikings. If the playoffs started today, these teams would be the 2 NFC wild card entries so the game is critical for each team to keep their playoff hopes alive and have an advantage for potential tie-breaker scenarios. The play is to lay the 3½ points and take the Seahawks. Here is the handicap.
The Seahawks are Peeking at the Right Time
Seattle comes into this game after winning 5 of their last 7 games straight up with a 5-1-1 record ATS during that stretch. Pete Carroll’s team started slowly in 2018 after an off-season in which the Legion of Boom was dismantled and many pundits expected Seattle to start a rebuilding process and not compete for a playoff spot for the first time in multiple years. After a 2-3 start, Carroll’s squad kicked it into gear and now sits as the 5th seed in the competitive NFC. The team only averaged 316 yards per game in their first 5 contests, but have increased that number to just under 370 yards per game during their most recent 7 games. Oddly enough, the improved offensive output has been a result of Carroll dedicating his team to regain their identity as a running team. The Seahawks failed to eclipse 113 rushing yards in their first 3 games, but since that game have totaled over 154 yards on the ground in every game except one. Seattle is running the ball on a league high 51% of its offensive plays and still has the 9th most points in the league. The dedication to the run game has elevated the play of quarterback Russell Wilson who is playing as well as at any point in his career. Wilson is completing 67% of his passes and has thrown for 29 touchdowns to only 5 interceptions.
The Hawks defense is still in the process of creating a new identity. The breaking up of the Legion of Boom, along with defensive line stars Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril moving on and nagging injuries to linebacker K.J. Wright have left a lot of holes. Seattle is 27th in the league in yards per play allowed, but is 9th in points allowed surrendering less than 22 points per contest. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks -who had 2 sacks in 3 games - will be back in the lineup this week after serving his suspension to give the stop unit another playmaker. Seattle also is 9th in takeaways and have recorded a takeaway in 8 of their 11 games. Carroll has put his stamp on this team and they seem to be playing better every week. The Vikings will have to at their best to slow down Seattle.
The Vikings Can’t Get Going
Minnesota on the other hand keeps spinning their wheels. They came into the year rated as one of the top 5 teams in the league by most analysts, but have not been able to duplicate last year’s 13 win campaign. Kirk Cousins signed a mega-deal to give the Vikings the push they would need to get over the hump in the big games, but it hasn’t worked out as planned. Cousins stats are good – he is completing over 71% of his throws and averages just under 300 yards per game but it’s not translating into big wins. Minnesota has 0 wins against teams that currently have- winning records and have a 0-4 record against teams that are currently leading their divisions. The Vikings played the division leading Bears in week 11 and the Patriots last week and were not competitive in either game. Both of these games were on the road and outside which has also proven to be a struggle for the team that plays its home games inside. Minnesota’s offensive skill players are top notch, with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen being one of the top receiving tandems in the league and Dalvin Cook running like he did before he tore his ACL last year. This offense has the talent to score with any team in the league, but they are only 18th in the league in points scored.
Mike Zimmer’s teams are known for their strong defenses, and last year his defense brought back memories of the Purple People Eaters. Their stats are also good again in 2018, 7th in yards per play allowed, 8th in sacks and best in the league at shutting down opponents on third down. But they have also fell flat in the big games. The Rams lit up the Vikings for 556 yards earlier in the year, and last week the Patriots ran up 471 yards. Most troubling as it relates to this week’s game in Seattle is the run defense. New England ran for 160 yards last week and 3 weeks ago Chicago rolled up 146 yards on the ground. Key injuries to cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes could also impact Minnesota this week when Wilson drops back to pass. A return of the Purple People Eaters is what the Viking need, but nothing has happened recently to suggest it will come in Seattle.
The Intangibles are with Seattle
The 12’s will have Century Link Stadium rocking for this prime time game. Seattle has one of the strongest home field advantages and is the league’s best prime time team. The Hawks are 20-4-1 in prime time games since Wilson took over as QB with only 1 of those losses coming at home – and the league is not scheduling cupcake games for prime time.
Minnesota is playing their second consecutive road game, traveling from the east coast last week to the west coast this week. Meanwhile Seattle had an easy time with the 49ers last week at home so this is back to back home games for the Seahawks.
The other advantage Seattle has in this game is in the kicking game. Sebastian Janikowski is 9 for 12 on tries over 40 yards. Dan Bailey is only 4 for 9 on field goals longer than 40 yards this season, and he missed one last week in Foxboro. Kickers rarely give a team an advantage going into a game, but Zimmer appears to have zero confidence in Bailey, and who could forget the Vikings losing a playoff game after the 2015 season when Blair Walsh missed a chip shot field goal in Seattle. I’m sure Zimmer hasn’t forgotten. Janikowski gives Seattle one more advantage this week.
Lay the 3½ with the Seahawks
Seattle at home in prime time should take care of business against Minnesota. The Vikings have lost 5 games this year and none of those losses have been by 3 points or less. Sportsbooks have undervalued the birds. Lay the 3½ with Seahawks on MNF.