Looking for a fourth straight victory, Seattle is a 3-point home favourite

Money Line odds (As of Dec. 6)

Minnesota Vikings: 2.45
Seattle Seahawks: 1.55


If you looked at the NFL schedule before the start of the season and thought a mid-December Monday Night Football tilt between the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks would’ve been a matchup of two teams at polar opposites of the NFL power struggle, you would not have been alone.

But as the NFL schedule turned its page to Week 14, the Vikings-Seahawks game on Monday in Seattle could have major implications for both teams, not to mention the NFC playoff race as a whole.

The Seahawks hold down the fifth seed with a 7-5 record on the strength of three consecutive wins, while the Vikings – last year’s NFC finalists – hold the sixth seed and final playoff position in the conference with a 6-5-1 record. It’s been a difficult haul for them as of late with two wins in their last five games. That has them second in the NFC North Division but they’re losing ground to the Chicago Bears for the top spot.

For both clubs, this is a huge game. It’s Monday night. Prime time. And the playoff chase is entering its final stretch, with a crowd of teams behind the Vikings and Seahawks but still alive for a wild card position. The margin for error for both of these clubs is thin, which makes it a perfect matchup to end a crucial Week 14.

As of Thursday at PlayNow.com, the Seahawks were three-point home favourites with Money Line odds to win the game at 1.55, compared to odds of 2.45 for the Vikings. When it comes to the point spread, the Vikings – led by Kirk Cousins at quarterback – are 6-5-1 against the spread this season. Recent trends, however, haven’t been too kind to Minnesota.

The Vikings are just 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games against teams with a winning record and 2-9 against the spread in their last 11 Monday night games. On the other hand, the Seahawks have been able to go 7-3-2 against the spread, including 3-2 from their confines of CenturyLink Field, the site of Monday’s contest.

In fact, the Seahawks will finish the season with three of their next four games at home, which could provide added advantage to their playoff plight.

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For the Vikings, this season has been a case of one step forward followed by a step or two back. Besides a three-game winning streak from Weeks 5 to 7 – wins coming against the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets – they’ve been unable to generate much in the way of momentum, losing two of their last three games.

The Vikings went out in the offseason and signed Kirk Cousins to be their quarterback, paying a hefty amount of money to make it happen, but their offence is mired in the bottom half of the league averaging an underwhelming 22.9 points per game. Cousins has thrown 23 touchdown passes but turned the ball over 15 times.

Their defence can be stingy, allowing only 22.5 points per game while allowing 3.7 yards per carry against the run, which is tied for second in the entire NFL. That’s an intriguing element entering this game because the Seahawks have, since the third week of the season, centred their offence around the run led primarily by sophomore running back Chris Carson.

That commitment to the run has proven successful for Seattle, which leads the league in 148.8 rush yards per game, not to mention 31.7 attempts per game. With such emphasis on running the ball, the pass has become a secondary element to the Seahawks’ offensive attack, as they’re last in the league in total pass attempts so far this season.

Yet, quietly compared to other flashier teams around the league, the Seahawks have rushed their way into the top 10 in the league on offence, with 26.6 points per game – good enough for ninth in the entire NFL.

Despite a slow start to the season, the Seahawks have forged their way into playoff contention. The Vikings haven’t exactly met pre-season expectations, but they’re still in a playoff spot, still a team that could be dangerous.

Not a bad matchup to end Week 14.

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