Minnesota Vikings (1-3) at Seattle Seahawks (4-0)
Russell Wilson has been one of the top quarterbacks in the league throughout his career, but he’s never started a season this well, completing 75.2% of his passes for an average of 9.38 YPA, 16 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, with 95 rushing yards in 4 games. The Seahawks overall rank 2nd in the league with a 44.80% first down rate, only behind the Green Bay Packers. This is as talented of an offensive supporting cast as Wilson has ever had, but there’s no denying how valuable Wilson has been for this team thus far. Wilson has somewhat famously never gotten an MVP vote, but it’s safe to say he’ll be in the mix this year if he continues playing this well.
The concern for the Seahawks is that, as well as Wilson is playing, they still aren’t blowing out most of their competition. They won by 13 points week 1 against the Falcons, but the Falcons are one of the worst teams in the league and their other three wins have come by one score, including games against the Cowboys and Dolphins. This isn’t anything new, as the Seahawks won 10 of their 11 wins by one score last season.
The Seahawks’ defense, which ranks 19th in first down rate allowed at 40.68%, is a definite concern, as the Seahawks could see some of their close wins turn to losses if Wilson falls back to earth the rest of the way. Those defensive concerns are even bigger this week with the Seahawks missing safety Jamal Adams due to injury, as Adams is arguably their best defensive player and the top safety in the league.
The Seahawks face a 1-3 Vikings team at home in Seattle this week, but they won’t have their normal homefield advantage and the Vikings are better than their record suggests, as they’ve had some things go against them that are very inconsistent week-to-week, like their -4 turnover margin (5th worst in the NFL), their 22.22% fumble recovery rate (2 of 9, including 1 for 7 on fumbles forced), and the 15 of 15 field goals that opponents have hit against them.
In fact, the Vikings actually rank just slightly behind the Seahawks in first down rate differential (+4.12% vs. +3.84%), despite the fact that they’ve faced a much tougher schedule. DVOA doesn’t have them quite as close, but the Vikings rank 13th, 7 spots behind the Seahawks, which still suggests we’re getting significant line value with the visitor. They should be able to keep this game close like most teams do with the Seahawks and they should also have a better chance to come in and get the straight up win than most expect, especially if Wilson has an off game.
My only concern with this game is the Seahawks are going into their bye, which is usually a good spot for a big home favorite. Since 2002, home favorites of 7+ are 63-25 ATS before a bye. However, the Seahawks are barely 7-point favorites and these two teams are more evenly matched than this line suggests, so I’m not sure this trend applies. My calculated line is just Seattle -4.5, giving the Seahawks 1.5 points for homefield advantage. I don’t like the Vikings as much as my typical Pick of the Weeks, but I don’t see a better option this week. I would be surprised if Seattle was able to win this game by multiple scores, barring some fluky outlier plays.
Seattle Seahawks 31 Minnesota Vikings 27
Pick against the spread: Minnesota +7
Confidence: Pick of the Week