Moore Predicts: Offense to carry Seahawks to high-scoring win over Vikings
This is what happens when you get cocky – you go from 3-0 predicting the outcome of Seahawks’ games to 3-1 after thinking an inferior Dolphins team would beat Pete Carroll’s team last Sunday.
Was it a dumb prediction? I suppose. But Miami was within two points in the fourth quarter, so it’s not as if I thought the Jets would beat the Chiefs or something like that.
This week, the Seahawks host the Vikings Sunday night at CenturyLink Field, and it’s a clash featuring a man (Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins) who has a poor primetime record against another (Carroll) who has a sensational one.
That’s a historical factor that favors the Seahawks, but there are many other reasons why the Vikings are seven-point underdogs.
The biggest difference between the two teams is on offense, where Seattle is third in the league and Minnesota is 22nd. Their defenses are equally bad, and it’s almost comical to think that a lot of the chatter this week was about Seattle’s “improvement” against Miami. When you allow more than 400 yards and can still call it improvement, that shows you how terrible the defense was in the first three weeks.
Without an injured Jamal Adams, the Seahawks didn’t blitz the Dolphins nearly as much as they did in the first three games. The less-aggressive style worked, forcing Miami to take shorter stuff in front of the Seahawks’ defense.
But I wonder how effective that strategy will be this week. It seems like most people aren’t all that fond of Kirk Cousins, probably because he doesn’t live up to his contract, but he’s still an above-average NFL quarterback. He’s certainly good enough to dink and dunk the way Ryan Fitzpatrick did last week and benefits from having one of the top running backs in the league in Dalvin Cook to help him move the ball down the field.
I have my doubts about Seattle’s run defense even though it’s third in the league right now and is limiting opponents to 3.4 yards a carry, a big stride from last year when they allowed 4.9. But who has really challenged the Seahawks’ run defense? Ezekiel Elliott? I guess, but he didn’t seem like a focal point for Dallas with Dak Prescott and his array of talented receivers finding so much success against Seattle through the air.
Cook leads the league with 424 rushing yards and is averaging a whopping 5.7 yards a carry. He’s run for a combined 311 yards the last two weeks against the Titans and Texans. It’s one thing to run against the Texans, another against the Titans, and he had 181 yards against Tennessee, averaging 8.2 yards a carry.
And Cousins has good receivers to throw to – wideouts Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Jefferson, a first-round rookie out of LSU, has accounted for 278 receiving yards in his last two games, including a 175-yard outburst against the Titans.
If I’m Ken Norton, I know I don’t have Jamal Adams again this week, and I might have Quinton Dunbar back at right corner, but he could be compromised with a lingering knee injury. As a result, I would incorporate a game plan that’s something in between cutting it loose with blitzes and giving receivers cushion in front of the defensive backs. Just change it up from time to time by trying to confuse Cousins, who is used to seeing a limited number of blitzes from Seattle in the past.
We all know that no matter what the defensive game plan is, Minnesota’s going to have success moving the ball and scoring. I also don’t think the Vikings are a 1-3 team. I know they’re 1-3, that’s what their record says they are, but they’re not going to be under .500 at season’s end, are they?
As mentioned earlier, Seattle’s biggest advantage is its offense against Minnesota’s defense, particularly the secondary where two rookies started at cornerback last week against Houston. Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett torch the best corners in the league; they should really have their way with Minnesota’s inexperienced corners.
But will Russ cook in this game? In terms of burners on the stove with low, medium and high, I think the element will be turned to medium in this one with Chris Carson rushing for more than 100 yards for the first time this year. Why? Because the forecast calls for 60% chance of rain, and whenever it’s wet, Wilson isn’t his high-octane self. He’s still productive, just not other-worldly.
Added up, I like the Seahawks to win a high-scoring game with the Vikings keeping it close and covering the seven-point spread.
Prediction: Seahawks 31, Vikings 27