Seattle Seahawks (-1.5, 42 o/u) at Minnesota Vikings
The Seattle Seahawks (6-5, 2-3 road) Minnesota Vikings (8-3, 4-1 home) were both popular picks to make the playoffs in the NFC at the start of the season. But it was supposed to be Seattle who came into their Week 13 matchup (Sunday, Dec. 6, at 1:00 PM Eastern) as a division leader, and Minnesota who was battling for a Wild Card spot. Thanks to a dominant defense and a terrific return-season from Adrian Peterson, the Vikings are on top of the NFC North, while the Seahawks’ slow start has them three games back of Arizona in the West.
Seattle came into the year as Super Bowl favorites, but sputtered to a 2-4 start as the porous offensive line killed both the run and pass games. The team’s defense – in particular the secondary – has also been on the decline, surrendering over 230 passing yards per game (almost 50 more than last season).
But the 2013 champs may have turned a corner. Now winners of two straight and four of five, Seattle is averaging 33.3 points per game over their last three and both the running game and passing attack are showing signs of progress. Quarterback Russell Wilson had his best game of the year last weekend, passing for five touchdowns and no picks in a 39-30 win over the visiting Steelers. The week before, rookie RB Thomas Rawls (who is spelling an injured Marshawn Lynch) ran for 209 yards and a major en route to a 29-13 drubbing of the Niners.
Perhaps more importantly, though, the offensive line has looked improved. The team had been surrendering nearly four sacks per game through 11 weeks, but gave up just four total (for -16 yards) over the past two outings.
Seattle will need the o-line to continue to improve this week against a ferocious Minnesota front seven. The likes of DE Everson Griffen and LB Anthony Barr are apt to have Wilson running for his life all day unless the offensive line picks up the slack a little more.
On offense, the Vikings would like to keep doing what’s worked for them all year: pound the ball with Adrian Peterson. After missing the entire 2014-15 season, the former league MVP leads the NFL in rushing (1,164 yards). But he may find the line of scrimmage to be something of a Berlin Wall this weekend; the Seahawks sit fifth in the league in rush defense, giving up just 92 yards per game.
And it’s not like Peterson has an All-Pro line to run behind; he’s put up those numbers behind a severely banged up front. He also had the benefit of an easy first half of the schedule. (Even though Minny has eight wins on the year, they’ve yet to beat a team that’s over .500.)
The betting trends seem to favor Minnesota: the Seahawks are just 4-6-1 ATS on the year, and 1-3-1 away from home. The Vikings, on the other hand, are a tremendous 9-2 against the number, overall, including 4-1 at home. That said, this looks like a bad matchup for the Vikes. Seattle’s defense, though not what it once was, can still take away the run. With Peterson bottled up, all the pressure will be on Bridgewater to move the sticks, and that’s not a recipe for success in Minny, especially given how thin the Vikings are at receiver.
Take the Seahawks and lay the points.
Pick: Seattle (-1.5).
(Photo credit: Mike Morbeck (Flickr: Adrian Peterson) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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