Pete Carroll and Mike Zimmer are both head coaches with defensive backgrounds. The Vikings and Seahawks have both had stingy and oftentimes dominant defenses under the direction of each head coach. These two coaches and teams are set to square off on Sunday night, but oddly enough it’s not expected to be anything close to a defensive standoff.
Oddsmakers have posted 56.6 or 57.0 as the over/under for this game. Seattle is one of just two teams so far this season to top 30 points in all four games. And the Vikings offense, after a slow start to the season, appears to be hitting its stride entering Week 5.
Despite each team’s best efforts and deep intentions, Sunday night’s game figures to be high scoring. Defense will still matter, particularly in crucial situations, but at the end of the night there’s going to be a demand for points.
Seahawks supporters have no qualms about this. They’ve seen their team light up the scoreboard every week. Their QB is a MVP candidate. They have three WRs producing big-time numbers. They have a bruising RB. They’re going to be in the comfy confines of their home stadium. This style of play is a comfortable one for the 12s.
For Vikings Nation, it’s a bit more complicated.
The slow start was demoralizing. But the recent resurgence has been exhilarating. So what will happen on Sunday night? Will the resurgence continue or will the Sunday/Seattle Scaries creep in and spoil the good vibes?
We won’t know for sure until the game begins. But there is one thing we can be certain about. And that is the fact that pass protection is going to be key for the Vikings if they are to match scoring prowess with Seattle.
Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen have shown they can pull their weight. Dalvin Cook has gotten on track and is a dual threat for the offense. The offensive scheme has been sound, others such as Alexander Mattison and Kyle Rudolph have demonstrated some pop in the first four games and, as he’s shown the last two weeks, Cousins can push the ball down the field when all is right around him.
And that’s the key. When all is right around him. It’s hard to make sure all is right around the QB when you’re playing the Seahawks in Seattle. Granted, the boisterous 12s won’t be in attendance making it even more difficult, but Bobby Wagner will still be there. Puna Ford will be there. KJ Wright will be there. It’ll be up to the Vikings offensive line, in part, to ensure that these players don’t make all to be wrong around Cousins.
In fairness, pass protection is not only a function of the offensive line’s performance. Backs and TEs help pass protect. Receivers need to get open. The play caller needs to be wise. And the QB must be on time. If this game goes how most expect, though, it’s hard to imagine a situation where the Vikings aren’t ever in obvious pass situations, at which point the five linemen will be responsible for blocking pass rushers as five other eligible Vikings are deployed on routes. It will be these situations, most likely, where Sunday’s game will be won and lost.
Stat of the Week
Russell Wilson has excelled this season on deep passes and passes outside the numbers per @NextGenStats. Wilson leads the NFL with 7 deep TD passes and is the only QB with a deep TD in each game. He’s also thrown 10 TD on passes outside the numbers without an INT. pic.twitter.com/zJofSXBKWo
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 6, 2020
POWER RANKINGS – Best Non-Sunday at Noon Game Times
Routine is king in the NFL. Teams regiment their operations to the minute and the fundamentals of this schedule are based on a kickoff time of Sunday at noon CT. Inevitably, though, you’re going to have a non-Sunday at noon kickoff.
With the NFL announcing earlier this week that the Bill-Titans game was moving to Tuesday, it got us thinking about all the different days and times a game can be played and which ones are the best and worst. It should be noted, we’re talking about NFL football here. So there is no bad day or time for a game. But there are preferred windows. Let’s discuss…
1. Sunday at noon
From a team’s perspective, this is preferred and there’s not a close 2nd place. As stated above, the basic NFL team schedule is based on the premise of a noon CT kickoff. This time slot minimizes the amount of time sitting in the hotel before (home or away) games. It sets up the next week for another normal routine, with Monday a possible workday and Tuesday as the off day.
2. Sunday late afternoon
If it’s can’t be Sunday at noon, then the second window on Sunday will suffice. Yes, this adds some hotel time before the game, but it still allows for a decent arrival back home even after road games and it allows your following week to begin normally.
3. Thursday Night Football
This might be the first surprise for folks. The short week is a bear, especially for players/teams who are banged up. An injury that may not prevent you from suiting up by Sunday could easily cost you a chance to play on Thursday night. But there are advantages to playing on Thursday night. You get a quasi bye week because you don’t play for another 10 days after the Thursday night game. If you win the week before, you then have a chance to notch two wins in four days. If you lost the week before, you get to move on even quicker from that loss because you need to be ready for Thursday night. And, the whole League is watching you. The vast majority of players enjoy playing in this kind of spotlight and some may even say it enhances their performance.
4. Sunday Night Football
The bad news here is there is a lot of sitting around the hotel, especially for the road team because they arrive the afternoon before and are in the hotel for more than 24 hours before heading to the stadium. Also, if it’s a long flight home, you may not land until close to sunrise on Monday morning, which can throw the beginning of the following week off its routine. It’s still fun to play in prime time and you’re still playing on Sunday so the week build up is on routine, which is good. But this is a tough time slot, particularly for road teams.
5. Monday Night Football
The tradition is awesome. MNF has a special place in every football fan’s heart. The music. The history. The spotlight. All of that is good. But what’s not good is the deviation from the routine. Your week of prep is off because you’re behind a day. Thursday is your Wednesday. Friday is your Thursday. Saturday is your Friday. If you’re the road team, you’re traveling on Sunday.
Then you wake up on Monday and the rest of the League is moving toward the following week while you’ve yet to play. And then your following week is more difficult because you’re a day behind and, more than likely, your upcoming opponent has already started prepping for you. Injured players have one few day to heal. This is not ideal.
6. Tuesday night
It’s odd, but we have to throw it in here. The Vikings played on a Tuesday night back in 2010 when a snowstorm ravaged Philadelphia and caused the postponement of a Sunday game to that Tuesday. This week the Bills-Titans game was moved to Tuesday because of Covid-19 concerns. It goes without saying why this time slot is last on the list.
ATS, SU and TOTALS
Each week in this space, we’ll keep track (and make fun) of my favorite gambling angles on the NFL docket. We’ll track five of my selections against the spread (ATS), five totals (over/under total points) and then every matchup straight up (SU). Before making any action make sure to check the sports betting sites reviewed by Sports Betting Dime as the prices and benefis might change a lot from one site to another
CHI +3.5vs TB
LAR -7at WAS
JAX +6at HOU
DAL -9.5vs NYG
PHI +7at PIT
STRAIGHT UP (39-24)
TB, ATL, KC, ARI, PIT, LAR, BAL, HOU, SF, CLE, DAL, SEA, NE, NO, BUF
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