The Kirk Cousins led Minnesota Vikings (8-3) and the Seattle Seahawks (9-2) close out week thirteen at CenturyLink Stadium in what’s set to be an enthralling contest that has huge ramifications for those within the NFC chasing a playoff berth. Riding a four-game winning streak and home field advantage it’s no surprise to see the Seahawks listed as favourites.
Despite posting a league leading eight games with a passing rating north of 110, Six games with a completion percentage of 75 or more and just three interceptions all season. No one divides opinion more than Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. The ‘marmite’ of NFL quarterbacks Kirk Cousins completed 29 of 35 for 318 yards and three touchdowns passes during the Vikings 27-23 victory over the Denver Broncos during week 12. With the lack of pass rush along with a secondary that’s ranked 29th overall against the pass (avg 268 yards) the stage is set for the former fourth round draft pick (2012) to have another huge game.
Complimenting Kirk Cousins and the passing attack is a physically punishing ground game that’s averaging 142-yards a game (4th overall) spearheaded by the 5ft 10″ 210lb Dalvin Cook. The 24-year-old is enjoying a renaissance in form after an injury plagued first two years in the league (torn ACL 2017 missed 12 games, 2018 hamstring missed 5 games), Cook has amassed 1472 yards from scrimmage (1017 rushing, 455 receiving) along with 11 trips to the end zone. The matchup for Cook is a mouthwatering prospect against Seattle’s linebackers Bobby Wagner (105) and K.J. Wright (95) (the duo have accumulated 200 tackles between them) as the 24-year-old has broken 18 tackles and averages 2.6 yards after contact.
The Vikings will once again be without one half of one of the more dynamic one-two punches at the receiver position within the NFL, as Adam Thielen has been ruled out (hamstring). The two-time pro bowler has played just seven snaps since first picking up the injury on October 20th hindering Kirk Cousins production somewhat.
Stefon Diggs reeled in all five of his targets against the Bronocs last week for 121 yards and a touchdown. Feast or famine sums up the form of the fifth round pick of the 2015 draft, as Diggs has posted five games with 100 yards or more and six games with less than 50 yards receiving.
Kirk Cousins struggles in prime time
Tight end Kyle Rudolph might not grab the headlines on a national level to the same degree as Travis Kelce or George Kittle, but the 6ft 6″ 265lb Rudolph has been one of the more consistent tight ends in the game since coming into the league in 2011 and a nice outlet for Kirk Cousins. With Thielen out and the Seahawks defense in the top five in targets (100), touchdowns (5) and yards (738) allowed by opposing tight ends, Rudolph could be inline for a huge game.
Defensively the front seven is awash with talent, defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen have 15.5 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss and 37 quarterback hits between them. Behind them the best linebacker in pass coverage (12 passes defensed) and the leading tackler (86) on the team Eric Kendricks, is having an All Pro season.
Having emerged victorious during the last five meetings Russel Wilson will be looking to continue his unblemished record whilst positioning the Seahawks atop of the NFC West (by virtue of a head-to-head tie) following the 49ers defeat the Baltimore Ravens yesterday. Throughout the year Wilson has simply been a magician improvising with precision to devastating effect when the game has been on the line. However the 31-year-old has been sacked 11 times and thrown two of his three interceptions during his last two games.
The almost telepathic relationship between Wilson and Tyler Lockett has produced game winning scenarios at an alarming regulatory. Lockettt leads the team with 831 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns and has 100 yards or more during two of his last four games. Opposite Lockett is rookie D.K Metcalf who’s put forward a solid debut campaign showcasing his speed and strength. Despite a troublesome catch percentage of 54.3 the 64th overall draft pick has been targeted 25 times (15 receptions) in his last three games for 228 yards and a touchdown.
Similarly to the Vikings the Seahawks have an imposing ground game of thier own in the form of Chris Carson. The 2017 seventh round draft pick is averaging 4.2 yards per carry and has 1099 yards from scrimmage. Prior to last week’s game, during which Rashaad Penny had a career day with 14 rushes for 129 yards and a touchdown, Penny had been in a complimentary role. It’ll be interesting to see if the Seahawks ride the hot hand against a stout Vikings run defense.
During last Sunday’s victory over the Eagles there was an Ezekiel Ansah sighting as the seven-year veteran recorded his first sack since week five. With Jadeveon Clowney listed as probable expect to see more of Rasheem Green. The sophomore defensive end played 62% of defensive snaps (highest since week five) recording a sack, one tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits.
At the end of the day Kirk Cousins needs to find a way to pull out a win in prime-time. The contract situation a few years back has forever put an amazing amount of pressure him, and while the 100% guaranteed contract was obviously a boon, now is the time for Kirk Cousins to prove he deserved it.