Three Keys: Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks

The Minnesota Vikings are at the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5. While we have our own injuries, the Seahawks are dealing with injuries as well. Jamal Adams, Seattle’s big-time playmaker from the secondary, will miss the game. Even still, Seattle is a strong opponent, one who has consistently been among the most difficult the Vikings have to play. To be successful on Sunday, we’ll need big games from Harrison Smith, the corners, and Kirk Cousins.

Harrison Smith vs. Russell Wilson

Harrison Smith is Minnesota’s best, most versatile defensive player; Russell Wilson is Seattle’s best, most versatile offensive player. If the Vikings get the best of Wilson, it’ll likely be because of a huge game from Smith.

Through the opening four weeks of the season, Smith is PFF’s 4th best safety with a 78.1 score. One wonders how different his score would be if he wasn’t ejected from last week’s game. With a 95.0 score (second in the league behind he-who-shall-not-be-named Aaron “Voldemort” Rodgers), Wilson is similarly elite in PFF’s grading system. Mike Zimmer does a great job of using Smith in a variety of ways. He can play deep to be a ballhawk, line up in the box to support the run, and also can be very effective on blitzes. It also wouldn’t be unreasonable to consider using Smith as a QB spy on some snaps.

The Young Corners vs. Tyler Lockett & DK Metcalf

There is no rest for the weary. The injuries and inexperience have impacted the secondary, and the Seattle receivers are going to present a formidable challenge. With both Holton Hill and Kris Boyd listed as questionable, the Vikings will again need to rely on rookies Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney. Getting Mike Hughes back will help, but Zimmer will still be asking a lot of his young corners. Smith certainly helps, and so too does Anthony Harris. Nevertheless, Zimmer will need to be creative in his pressure packages and coverages. Expect plenty of zone to help contain the Wilson scrambling. Dantzler’s and Galdney’s tackling will again be needed.

Cousins vs. Prime Time

We debated making this one Zimmer vs. Brian Schottenheimer. The best chance the Vikings have of succeeding rests in Zimmer being able to effectively disguise his coverages and blitzes. Kirk Cousins, though, is the one who actually has the ball in his hands, so we’ve decided to roll with our QB.

By this point, Vikings fans are already familiar with Cousins’ lack of success in prime time. In the offseason, we wrote about the necessity of Cousins stepping up in the biggest moments so that the Vikings could turn their soft rebuild into a reload. So far, Cousins hasn’t lived up to this lofty ambition. We compared the Vikings to the Seahawks in this article, and we argued that Cousins needs to mirror Wilson’s career progression. Getting a clutch performance on Sunday night would be pretty good evidence of Cousins taking another step.

The Crystal Ball

There’s no way around it: it’s been ugly on our end. As much as we hate to admit it, we believe we get out first correct prediction this week. It’s a tough ask for these Minnesota Vikings to win at the Seattle Seahawks. We think Seattle is going to be too much for the Vikings to handle. Kirk Cousins again struggles to perform in prime time and the defense will struggle to contain Wilson. Though we hate the thought of getting yet another prediction wrong, we’d be stoked to again be misreading our crystal ball.

Preseason Prediction: Seahawks 27 – Vikings 13

Updated Prediction: Seahawks 27 – Vikings 13