Seahawks vs. Vikings Odds, NFL Sunday Predictions, Picks: Back Minnesota As An Underdog?
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
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|Moneyline||-135 / +115|
|Time||4:25 p.m. ET|
Expectations were high for the Vikings coming into this season as they were targeted by sharp bettors as a team that could go over their win total and challenge for the NFC North.
Two games into the season, things haven’t gone according to plan.
After losing as 3.5-point road favorites to the Bengals in overtime, the Vikings lost to the Cardinals after place kicker Greg Joseph missed a 37-yard field goal that would have given them the win. Instead of sitting at 1-1 tied with the Packers and Bears at the top of the division, the Vikings are 0-2 as they return home, hoping to secure their first victory of the season against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
Ironically, this will be the first time the Vikings host the Seahawks since their 2015 wild-card loss when Blair Walsh missed the potential game-winning field goal that would have sent the Vikings to the divisional round. These teams did meet last season in a 27-26 thriller in Seattle as the Seahawks rallied to a comeback victory behind Wilson’s game-winning touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf with 15 seconds to go.
While the Vikings can’t change the past, they can certainly change their future. And that starts against the Seahawks, who are coming off a disappointing loss of their own: A 33-30 overtime loss to the Titans in which the Seahawks blew their 15-point halftime lead.
Nonetheless, oddsmakers have installed the Seahawks as 2.5-point road favorites with a total of 55. It appears that we’re seeing mostly one way action with the road team receiving 70% of the wagers as of writing (check real-time public betting data here).
It’s tough to bet against Wilson, but is it warranted? Let’s analyze both sides and find out!
Seahawks’ Offensive Line A Concern
The Seahawks hope to rebound after their devastating loss to the Titans.
Last week’s game was a tale of two halves: The Seahawks held a 24-9 lead at halftime and looked primed to cruise to an easy victory before blowing that lead after scoring just six second-half points. Wilson completed 22-of-31 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns but the majority of that was in the first half. In the second half, Seattle had an eight-play drive that led to a punt, a three-play drive ending with a 68-yard touchdown pass, then three-and-outs over their final three possessions.
The loss was out of character for a team that has held a 65-2 record when leading by four or more points at halftime dating back to 2012.
Nevertheless, it does tell us that no lead is safe with this Seahawks defense, and that in order for this team to win, Wilson has to continue to play like an MVP candidate. Goods news for the Seahawks is that, outside of that half, Wilson hasn’t had any problems doing that. He’s third in touchdown passes (six), fifth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, seventh in expected points added and seventh in completion percentage (76.9%) while leading a Seahawks offense that’s sixth in offensive efficiency and fifth in EPA/play.
The Seahawks are missing rookie wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge, who is out with a concussion, in addition to running back Rashad Penny. But Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Chris Carson should be more than enough to carry this offense when it comes to the skill positions.
What’s particularly troubling for the Seahawks offense is that they lost their starting center in Ethan Pocic (knee) in Week 1. While he did have a 49.4 PFF grade, his backup in Kyle Fuller is even worse with a PFF grade of 46.1 and a pass blocking grade of just 29.4, which ranks 29th out of 33 centers. The Vikings’ defensive line is eighth in pressure rate, so this is a concern for the Seahawks.
Right tackle Brandon Shell — who has had a PFF grade of 68.1, including 67.4 in pass blocking and 71.5 in run blocking — is also out.
With all the hits to the offensive line, how will it hold up? The Titans don’t have a great defensive line and yet they still got pressure, so what is this Vikings defense capable of?
Seattle’s defense is particularly concerning as it struggled to generate pressure against the Colts and Titans, who have offensive lines that rank toward the bottom in Adjusted Line Yards. This is a Seahawks defense that’s just 23rd in EPA/play and 26th in success rate, allowing 50.4% of plays from opposing offenses to grade out as successful. Even worse: The Seahawks are 30th in dropback success rate, allowing a whopping 64.7% of opponent passing plays to grade out as successful.
The Seahawks are much better against the run, but they could have their hands full with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
Vikings Seeking First Win
The Vikings have suffered back-to-back heartbreaking losses, dropping one in overtime after a Dalvin Cook fumble set up a Bengals’ game-winning field goal before Greg Joseph missed a 37-yard field goal that would have given the Vikings the win a week later against the Cardinals.
All things considered, this team could be 2-0 right now, and it’s clear by their point differential that they should be 1-1 at worst. Still, this is the NFL, and you are what your record says you are. Much of that has to do with failing to execute — whether that is due to penalties, turnovers or missed field goals — and the Vikings have beaten themselves.
Nonetheless, this is a talented football team that’s capable of winning the NFC North and challenging the best teams in this conference.
Cook is questionable with an ankle injury, but should he play, we could see a repeat of Derrick Henry’s performance agains the Seahawks last week in which he had 35 carries for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Still, the Vikings should be fine with or without Cook as they’ve proven they can hang with the best offensive units in this league.
What would be the perception of this team had Joseph’s field goal went in? They did put up 33 points on seven yards per play last week in Arizona.
The Vikings have plenty of ways to attack Seattle’s defense, but they should primarily attack the Seahawks through the air with Kirk Cousins throwing to Jefferson and Thielen.
The Titans had a 0.34 EPA and 67% success rate when passing on early downs on 36 plays. When passing in general, the Titans had a 0.25 EPA and 67% success rate. The blueprint is there for the Vikings. They put up 26 points on this Seahawks defense last season and were dominant through the air with 52% of plays grading out as successful. Meanwhile, they had a -0.12 EPA and a 40% success rate on their 43 run plays in that game. The Vikings have a 63% to 37% run vs. pass ratio, so it’s likely we’ll see them capitalize on the weaknesses of the Seahawks defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings haven’t been what we’re normally accustomed to seeing from a Mike Zimmer defense these past two seasons. They’re 11th in points allowed and 13th in total success rate, but they’re just 18th in defensive efficiency, 29th in ESPN’s pass rush win rate, and 31st in run stop win rate.
The Vikings have ruled out LB Anthony Barr (knee) and Harrison Hand (hamstring), so this defense isn’t without injuries, but I do think their line can cause some issues for a banged up Seahawks offensive line.
Here’s a fun fact: Jefferson was in fourth grade the last time the Vikings defeated the Seahawks. Even more interesting is that the Seahawks are 7-0 against the Vikings during Wilson’s tenure in Seattle.
The Seahawks are likely to be one of the biggest public plays of the week, but trends are meant to be broken, and I can’t help but think that the Vikings are being undervalued in this spot.
The Seahawks have played in 24 one-score games over the past two seasons and are 18-6 straight up. The 2.5-point spread tells us we’re looking at a one-score game and the Vikings are in a prime position to steal this one against a banged-up Seahawks offensive line with an advantage over Seattle’s struggling defense.
The wrong team is favored, so I’ll take the Vikings at +2.5. I’ll also add them to six-point teasers (+2.5 to +8.5) to cross off those key numbers of 3, 6 and 7 — and pair them with the Cardinals (-7.5 to -14.5), who draw the Jaguars.
Pick: Vikings +2.5