No, it’s not just your imagination. The Seahawks and Vikings have indeed played a lot recently — six times in the regular season since 2012 and another in the playoffs, and the last three years in Seattle.
“Yeah, I thought they signed a contract for us to go over there,” Vikings running back Dalvin Cook joked last week. “It’s been crazy.”
It’s also just been something of a quirk due in part to Seattle and the Vikings often finishing in the same place in their respective divisions and then playing each other the following year based on the league’s scheduling formula, though this year is because the NFC West is playing the NFC North.
And this year, the game is in Minnesota, where the Vikings will have fans in the stands for the first time since 2019 after starting the season with two on the road.
“We’ve been dealing with their fans quite a bit, so now it’s time for them to deal with ours,” Cook said.
The Seahawks got the feel of a true road game out of the way playing in front of a full house in a 28-16 win at Indianapolis. This game might not be as easy against a talented but desperate Minnesota (0-2) team.
Here’s our weekly look at some keys to the game:
Matchup to watch
Seahawks front seven vs. Minnesota RB Dalvin Cook
A week after giving up 182 yards to Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, who is now the NFL’s leading rusher, Seattle takes on the fourth-leading rusher in Cook.
Cook was officially listed as questionable Friday due to an ankle injury suffered last week against Arizona. But he practiced some, and coach Mike Zimmer said he was “doing much better.” With the Vikings in something of win-or-else mode, the best guess is he’ll play.
Cook isn’t as physically imposing as the 247-pound Henry (Cook is listed at 5-10, 210), and he tends to get used more in the passing game. Cook had 65 yards and a TD against Seattle last year before leaving with an injury in the third quarter, which some on the Minnesota side pointed as a key in allowing Seattle to rally to win.
He has 192 yards on the season, 131 against Arizona. Seattle might again use some of its five-defensive linemen “bear” defense to try to combat the run, though Minnesota’s passing prowess might also mean the Seahawks will have to go with more nickel defense (Seattle played 35 of 88 snaps against Tennessee in nickel).
Player to watch
WR DK Metcalf
Metcalf had a rough outing last week with three penalties, a tussle with the Titans that didn’t draw a flag, and six catches for just 53 yards. Now he goes up against a familiar rival — longtime Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson in his first year with the Vikings. Peterson, listed as the Vikings starting left cornerback, typically matched up on Metcalf a year ago, and according to NFL Next Gen Stats, held Metcalf to three receptions for 27 yards on seven targets on 64 routes. Seattle figures to look to the other side from Peterson as often as possible as starting right cornerback Bashaud Breeland is ranked 103rd out of 103 cornerbacks this week by Pro Football Focus.
Coaching decision to watch
Can Seattle get back to its Week One offense?
Seattle’s new-look offense in Week One looked like what everyone hoped — lots of receivers getting targets, receivers used in the running game, a balanced attack with a running game averaging 5.2 yards per carry. To be fair, Seattle had 30 points with 13 minutes to play last week. But, when it mattered most, the Seattle offense was unable to put the game away and increasingly seemed as if it didn’t have answers for what the Titans — a defense not regarded as one of the better ones in the NFL — were doing. Maybe most illustrative of the difference was Seattle’s tight ends getting just one reception for 3 yards against the Titans after making five for 57 against the Colts. Time to get back to more of what we saw Week One.
Here’s how one Vikings fan site summed up Minnesota’s special teams in 2020 — “an unmitigated, historic disaster.” Specifically, Minnesota has had field goal kicking issues in recent years. The Vikings are 28th in field goal percentage in the NFL in the Mike Zimmer era, according to ESPN, and are on their fifth kicker in his eight years, Greg Joseph.
Joseph missed a 37-yard kick on the final play of regulation last week that would have beaten Arizona. Zimmer backed Joseph this week, but Joseph is already fighting against the ghosts of Vikings kickers past. And we need not remind you of the Blair Walsh game. Seattle’s Jason Myers also missed an extra point last week in the fourth quarter that came back to bite the Seahawks. This feels like a game where a kick or two could be pivotal.
Player who could surprise
DE Darrell Taylor
Darrell Taylor had a key sack and two QB hits in the opener to make all the hype look for real. He backslid last week, though, playing just 23 snaps with no official stats, with Carroll saying some of it was related to the scheme against Henry but some also due to Taylor not being as active as Week One — he was credited with one QB hurry in 12 pass rush attempts by Pro Football Focus.
Taylor was captured saying on the sidelines he likes rushing off the left side best. That presents an interesting matchup this week against Vikings right tackle Brian O’Neill, who signed a five-year, $92.5 million extension this month and is regarded as Minnesota’s best linemen. Taylor might have better luck going on the right side against Vikings left tackle Rashod Hill, ranked 72nd of 74 tackles this week by PFF. Either way, Seattle needs more this week.
The Vikings have been pretty prolific offensively, ranking sixth in total yards at 411.0 per game. But they rank just 11th in points at 28.5 and one reason is a third-down percentage of 30.77 (8 of 26) that ranks 31st in the NFL. Seattle’s defense has been OK at stopping third downs, ranking 17th at 40.74%. But whoever wins that third-down Sunday might win the game.
The Final Word
Seahawks 31, Vikings 27
Seattle has had Minnesota’s number, winning six in a row in the regular season dating to 2009 and another in the postseason. This is a tough matchup, with the Vikings back at home and a hot offense. Seattle will need to force a turnover or two and be spotless on special teams. Here’s a guess that the Seahawks’ hex on the Vikings continues.