As the NFL season reaches its final quarter, the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings are in position to earn NFC wild-card playoff berths.
That might not be the case after Monday night’s meeting between the teams in Seattle.
The Seahawks (7-5) have won three straight games to move a half-game ahead of the Vikings (6-5-1) for the final two playoff spots. But Carolina, Philadelphia and Washington are all 6-6, making for a tight race the rest of the way.
“These are must-win games for us. Every week, we approach it like that,” Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown said after Sunday’s 43-16 victory against San Francisco. “We approach every week like a playoff game and that’s the kind of intensity guys came out with from kickoff on.”
The Vikings are coming off a 24-10 loss at New England.
“Right now, we’re kind of an up-and-down-team a little bit,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, “and that’s the thing that frustrates me the most. We need to develop more consistency.”
The Vikings have been especially inconsistent on offense, totaling fewer than 300 yards in three of their past four games.
Under first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, they have the fourth-fewest rushing attempts and the third-most passing attempts in the league, causing Zimmer to publicly express concern about the play-calling.
Dalvin Cook had a season-high 84 yards rushing against the Patriots on only nine carries. He added a career-high eight receptions.
“If I get five (touches), I get 10, two, whatever, I’m just trying to make a play to help my team win,” Cook said. “I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened in the game.”
The Vikings could find some success through the air, as Seattle has been allowing 315 yards passing over their past four games.
Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins leads the league with 350 completions, with wide receiver Adam Thielen tops in receptions (98) and second in yards (1,166).
The Seahawks have found a better balance on offense.
Seattle leads the NFL with 148.8 yards rushing per game and has grounded out 150-plus yards in seven of its past eight games.
Last week, Russell Wilson attempted just six passes in the first half but threw for three touchdowns. In the three-game winning streak, Wilson has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions, averaging about 250 yards passing.
“I love the way it’s fitting together for us,’’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
The Seahawks likely will be without guard D.J. Fluker, who strained his hamstring last weekend.
—Field Level Media