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Jim Moore Predicts: Will Seahawks’ pass defense hold up against Vikings?

Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald will have a tough test against Minnesota's passing game. (AP)

Because they’re the fifth playoff-seeded team right now and hold most of the tiebreakers against other postseason contenders, the Seahawks have a 99 percent chance of earning a wild-card berth if they finish 9-7, according to the New York Times.

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That means they could lose to Minnesota Monday night and Kansas City on Dec. 23 as long as they beat San Francisco and Arizona in their other two games to end up at 9-7.

Most of us have figured out that the Seahawks are better than we thought they’d be. I predicted 8-8 and out of the playoffs during a transitional year with so many new players and coaches. The heck of it is, though it’s not likely, 8-8 could still turn out to be the case. But the way the 7-5 Seahawks are playing, winners of three in a row, there’s a better chance for 11-5 or 10-6 than 8-8.

So we can agree that they’re a good team, but how good? Their seven wins have come against teams with a combined record of 28-55-1. They have beaten only one team with a winning record, Dallas at 7-5. Their five losses have come against teams with a combined record of 34-14.

I tend to lean more toward really good than pretty good. And this year in the NFC, really good and even pretty good qualify to be in the debate over which team is the third-best team in the conference. The Rams and Saints are clearly the top two teams. But after that, I’d take Seattle over the 8-4 Bears and the 7-5 Cowboys.

At this point, I’d like their chances against anyone in the NFC in a playoff game with their running game, which would help them if they get a cold-weather game in Chicago. The biggest problem is their pass defense. I know that some think their run defense is a bigger issue, and statistically they’d be right, but the secondary is a bigger concern to me.

Long-term I think Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin will be fine, but this is their first year together, and it’s showing of late. In the last four games, the Seahawks have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 71 percent of their passes and average 330 yards through the air.

I don’t care how he got what he got or when he got it – and John Clayton calls it garbage yardage – but when a third-string quarterback like Nick Mullens throws for 414 yards against you, it has to be a concern, though Pete Carroll shrugs it off. When this season ends, whether it’s in the regular season or the playoffs, I think we’ll be talking about the pass defense as the reason why.

In this Monday night matchup with Minnesota, that’s what should be most worrisome to Seahawk fans. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are the best wide-receiving tandem in the league. Though I’m not a fan of Kirk Cousins, mainly because he’s not worth what the Vikings paid him, he’s still a good quarterback who is capable of exploiting weaknesses downfield. We saw that last year when he led Washington to a surprising victory at CenturyLink Field with a last-minute drive.

The Vikings were one game away from the Super Bowl last year and thought they’d be able to take the final step with a supposed upgrade of Cousins over Case Keenum. But here they are at 6-5-1, and all six of their wins have been against teams with losing records.

The Seahawks have a winning record and are terrific under Pete Carroll both in prime-time and in December. They’re favored by three points, and I’ll take the team on the rise over the team that has not met preseason expectations. Seahawks 23, Vikings 17.

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