Monday Night Football: Vikings can storm the Seahawks stronghold

Kirk Cousins
Keeping it in the family: but Cousins still needs to make believers out of Minnesota fans

Romilly Evans expects the Minnesota Vikings to deal a blow to the Hawks' play-off hopes and revive their own at intimidating CenturyLink Field...

"Cousins should enjoy the time and space here to hit his two top targets in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen for some deep downfield strikes"

Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks
Start-time: Tuesday, 01:15
TV: Live on Sky Sports Action

Minny's defensive detail can put Wilson's Hawks in a flap

For the Seattle Seahawks (7-5) and the Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1), the regular season has four games remaining, each of them clutch, if they are to secure one of the two remaining Wildcard berths in the NFC. After largely uninspiring seasons, both have still done enough to keep their respective heads above water and the .500 mark.

However, with the mediocre masses swelling the middle-of-the-road ranks behind them (Philly, Washington, Carolina, even Green Bay), they can't afford any slip-ups. A victory tonight will put them in prime position to make the postseason. A loss, however, and it becomes a game of Russian roulette over the final troika of matches with so many variables potentially influencing seedings.

Snatching victory from the gaping jaws of defeat has become something of a Russell Wilson trademark, so a lazy fan assessment might conclude that he'll get it done when it matters most, especially at the Hawks' CenturyLink Field fortress where the decibel level regularly rises above deafening for rival offenses trying to go to work.

The aforementioned Wilson is something of a lone star for quality amongst a depleted Seahawks roster, which has bargained and bartered away many of its stars on offense, and is longing for the dominant defensive days of the self-styled Legion of Boom. That said, thanks to Wilson's mere presence and dual-threat versatility, Seattle have built an offense which is somehow able to continually draw on his deep well of reliability. Granted, Wilson pulls the strings from the most pivotal position on the field under center, but one day soon Seattle are going to go down to the well and come up empty. And it may be this season.

Cousin can find his wideouts for some chunk plays

As my esteemed colleague Mike Carlson put it the other week, Minnesota can be explosive offensively and defensively devastating. Which is bad news for a Seattle O-line which has struggled to steadfastly protect Wilson throughout the season. Quarterback Kirk Cousins still reminds us that he is short of elite status, but remember he leads the league with 350 completions & ranks sixth with 3,490 pass yards this season. He can certainly get it done, even on the road, when ably abetted by a talented receiving crew and a running back tandem of Latavius Murray and stud hybrid Dalvin Cook, who registered 106 scrimmage yards (84 running, 22 receiving) alongside a career-high eight receptions last week. This offensive balance will loosen up any decent QB's throwing arm, and Cousins is definitely decent.

Make no mistake, then, Minny will be able to move the chains here. The more salient question is, can they keep up with Wilson? Or, will the Minnesota pass rush breach Seattle's potentially porous O-line. In order to combat any mismatches, head coach Pete Carroll must establish a ground game here, in order to take the sting out of Minny's oncoming assault. Seattle will fall-back on their own one-two RB punch of Chris Carson and rookie Rashaad Penny, who are keeping the counter going for ground gains, without the needle ever going into the red.

For his part, Wilson is aiming for his fifth game on the trot with at least two touchdowns, no interceptions and a QB Rating north of 110. He even peaked in performance last Sunday by throwing for four TDs, zero picks for a 140.9 passer rating last week. Okay, that was against the Niners! This Minnesota defense, on the other hand, remain pretty healthy and present the kind of challenge from which Wilson routinely failed to escape earlier in the year (note close encounters with the Bears, Broncos and Chargers).

Turning the page to defensive detail, while the Hawks haven't dropped off the savage pace set by the fabled Legion Of Boom as much as many commentators feared, they nonetheless rank 29th against the run and 22nd against the pass in "explosive plays" allowed. All of which means Kirk Cousins should enjoy the time and space here to hit his two top targets in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen for some deep downfield strikes.

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