Week 13 of the NFL season comes to a conclusion with a heavyweight showdown in the NFC between the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks. Game time is at 8:15 EST on Monday, December 2 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
Oddsmakers list the Seahawks as 3-point favorites at home with an over/under of 50 points. Don’t forget to check out a full list of the Week 13 NFL odds.
The Vikings are hoping that last week’s long-awaited bye week won’t interrupt their momentum heading down the stretch. Minnesota has won six of their last seven games to pull even with the Packers at 8-3 heading into Week 13. While that record gives them a two-game cushion in the Wild Card standings, the Vikings would surely prefer to get ahead of the Packers and win the NFC North.
Minnesota catches a little bit of a break with their last-season schedule, which includes three home games and three games against losing teams over the final five weeks of the season. However, this week’s road game against the Seahawks and a Week 16 showdown with the Packers are the two most important games the Vikings will play the rest of the season. If they can steal a win on the road on Monday, it would give their division title hopes a huge lift.
Seattle is in a similar position. The Seahawks should be assured of at least a Wild Card spot but are still hoping to finish atop their division. The problem is that the 9-2 Seahawks are still a game back of the 10-1 49ers despite handing San Francisco their first loss of the season a few weeks ago. The silver lining is that the Seahawks have a ton of momentum after winning four games in a row, including three that have come on the road.
Unfortunately, the Seahawks have a difficult schedule late in the year, playing four of their final five games against teams that are also in the NFC playoff picture. Seattle will face plenty of potential stumbling blocks late in the season, so it’s important that they keep up their momentum as long as possible, especially at home.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Seahawks have beaten the Vikings in five straight meetings. That includes a playoff game following the 2015 season and a 21-7 win for the Seahawks when the Vikings visited CenturyLink Field last December.
I have no doubt that the Seahawks will have the best player on the field in this game with MVP candidate Russell Wilson. But I think the Vikings are the better team from top to bottom. Keep in mind that the Seahawks are 3-2 at home with their three wins coming by a total of eight points, so they’re no longer a lock to win on their home field. That’s enough reasonable doubt to make me lean toward the Vikings and the points.
I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating that Seattle’s defense is not the same as it’s been in past years. The Seahawks looked great last week, forcing five turnovers and holding the Eagles to nine points. But I’m not buying that as a sign of things to come. The Philadelphia offense is somewhat limited, so it’s not a huge surprise that the Seahawks had a strong defensive effort. In the six games before that, the Seahawks gave up an average of 27.5 points, which is surprising to see for a 9-2 team.
It’s a safe bet that the Minnesota offense will be much more of a handful for Seattle than the Eagles were last week. Adam Thielen is still questionable to return from injury, but the Vikings still have enough weapons to do plenty of damage. Dalvin Cook has already surpassed the 1,000-yard mark on the season and is difficult to contain for four quarters. Even when the Vikings struggled to establish their ground game against the Broncos two weeks ago, they still managed to make plays down the field.
Kirk Cousins has thrown just one interception in his last nine games. He also has 12 touchdown passes and no picks in his last five games. To the surprise of many, Cousins has managed to turn things around and has consistently played at a high level for the past two weeks. Even if Thielen can’t go, Stefon Diggs still gives the Vikings a deep threat who can keep the Seahawks from focusing too much on stopping the run.
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings have as good of a chance as anyone to slow down Wilson and the Seattle offense. They’ve been far from perfect, but Minnesota does have a formidable pass rush, which is one of Seattle’s biggest weaknesses. The Seahawks also have half a dozen offensive starters listed as questionable, so Wilson’s supporting cast is far from full strength.
To be honest, this game is virtually a toss-up, which makes me want to lean toward the underdog. No one would be surprised to see Wilson carry the Seahawks to another win. But Seattle is far from perfect and I think a good team like the Vikings can give them a run for their money and at least beat the spread.