2016 NFL Playoffs
NFC Wild Card Game
#6 Seattle Seahawks at #3 Minnesota Vikings
TCF Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sunday, January 10, 2016, 1:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Opening Line: Seattle -5
Current Line: Seattle -5
Opening Total: 42 1/2
Current Total: 39 1/2
Opening Money Line: Seahawks -240 / Vikings +200
Current Money Line: Seahawks -220 / Vikings +180
The surprising Minnesota Vikings won the NFC North with an 11-5 record for the first time since 2009. The reward is a home playoff game against the two time defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks who finished 10-6. Seattle finished second in the NFC West behind the 13-3 Arizona Cardinals. If Minnesota wins, they travel to the Arizona Cardinals next Saturday. A Seattle win would send them to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers next Sunday.
Temperatures are expected to be frigid with some forecasts saying the high could be 1 degree Sunday. Ironically, this will be the last outdoor game in Minnesota for the foreseeable future as the Vikings move back indoors into their new stadium next year after two years at the University of Minnesota’s football stadium.
Seattle leads the series 9-5 against Minnesota. The Seahawks have won three straight against the Vikings including 38-7 in this very stadium December 6. Seattle scored the first 35 points of the game before Minnesota finally got on the board with a 101 yard kickoff return. The Vikings only had 125 total yards and 9 first downs.
Seattle is coached by Pete Carroll. The Seahawks have home wins over the Chicago Bears 26-0, Detroit Lions 13-10, San Francisco 49ers 29-13, Pittsburgh Steelers 39-30 and Cleveland Browns 30-13, plus road wins over the 49ers 20-3, Dallas Cowboys 13-12, Vikings, Baltimore Ravens 35-6 and Arizona Cardinals 36-6 last week. Seattle has road losses at the Rams 34-31 in overtime, Green Bay Packers 27-17 and Bengals 27-24 in overtime, along with home losses to the Carolina Panthers 27-23, Cardinals 39-32 and Rams 23-17. Seattle has won six of their last seven games.
The Seahawks were 6 point underdogs against the Cardinals and the total was 46.5. Arizona entered the game with a chance to take home field advantage in the NFC with a win and a Carolina Panthers loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Seattle jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first. Arizona would score to make it 10-6, but wouldn’t score again. Seattle scored 20 points to close out the first half with 3 touchdown passes from quarterback Russell Wilson. The Seahawks added two field goals in the second half to complete the 36-6 rout. Arizona had 3 turnovers in the loss. The Cardinals had won 9 straight games before the loss. Seattle is 8-7-1 ATS and the total is 7-9 this season.
Minnesota is coached by Mike Zimmer. Minnesota has road losses at the San Francisco 49ers 20-3, Denver Broncos 23-20 and Cardinals 23-20, plus home losses to the Green Bay Packers 30-13 and Seahawks 38-7. The Vikings have home wins over the Detroit Lions 26-16, San Diego Chargers 31-14, Kansas City Chiefs 16-10, St. Louis Rams 21-18, Chicago Bears 38-17, and New York Giants 49-17 plus road wins over the Lions 28-19, Bears 23-20, Oakland Raiders 30-14, Atlanta Falcons 20-10, and Packers 20-13 last week. The Vikings have won three straight games.
The Vikings were 3 point underdogs against the Packers last week in Lambeau. The NFC North title was on the line for both teams, but they had already clinched playoff berths. The Vikings would take a 6-3 lead into halftime. In the third quarter, Minnesota added two touchdowns including a 55 yard fumble return for a touchdown to make it 20-3. Green Bay rallied to within 20-13 with 5:35 left. On the ensuing kickoff, Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson returned it from the Minnesota one all the way to the Green Bay 31. However, he fumbled and the Packers recovered at their own 23. Green Bay drove down the field and had fourth and goal at the Minnesota 13. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw an interception in the end zone. After a Minnesota three and out, Green Bay took over at their own 42 with 58 seconds left and no timeouts. They got to the Minnesota 38 but were incomplete on a Hail mary on the last play of the game. The Packers had won the NFC North title for four straight seasons before last week. Each team had two turnovers. The Vikings are 13-3 ATS and the total is 4-11-1 this season.
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Seattle is outscoring teams 26-17 this season. The Seahawks are #1 in points allowed and #5 in scoring. Seattle is averaging 379 yards per game on offense including 237 passing yards and 142 rushing. The Seahawks are #20 in passing, #3 in rushing and #4 in total offense. On defense, Seattle is allowing 291 total yards including 210 passing and 82 rushing yards. Seattle is #2 in both total and pass defense, and #1 in rush defense. The Seahawks are 107/222 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 68/202. The Seahawks have forced 37 sacks and allowed 46 this season. Seattle has two special teams touchdowns and three defensive touchdowns, and have allowed two of each as well. The Seahawks are +7 in turnovers.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has completed 68.1% of his passes for 4,024 yards with 34 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 103 carries for 553 rushing yards and a touchdown. No quarterback has been hotter than Wilson over the last six games. Tavaris Jackson is the back-up.
Running back Marshawn Lynch has 111 carries for 417 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 80 yards. He has only played in seven games due to a hamstring injury and a hernia. He is listed as probable for Sunday and hasn’t played since November 15. Thomas Rawls has 147 carries for 830 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 9 catches and a receiving touchdown. The rookie undrafted free agent is out with a broken ankle. Fred Jackson will also get some carries. He has 100 rushing yards, but does have 32 catches for 257 yards and 2 touchdowns. Christine Michael and Bryce Brown will also get some carries.
Receiver Doug Baldwin has 78 catches for 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns. Jermaine Kearse has 49 catches for 685 yards and 5 touchdowns. Rookie receiver Tyler Lockett has 51 catches for 664 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also has a kick return and a punt return both for touchdowns. Lockett is probable with a hip injury. Tight end Jimmy Graham has 48 catches for 605 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is out with a torn ACL. Receiver Paul Richardson is out with a knee injury and has only one catch this season. Four defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.
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Minnesota is outscoring teams 23-19 this season. The Vikings are #5 in points allowed. Minnesota averages 321 yards per game on offense including 183 passing and 138 rushing yards. The Vikings are #4 in rushing but are #29 or worse in passing and total offense. Minnesota allows 344 total yards per game on defense including 235 passing and 109 rushing yards. Minnesota is 81/210 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 82/228. The Vikings have allowed 45 sacks and have forced 43 this season. Minnesota is +5 in turnovers. The Vikings have 6 special teams/defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has completed 65.3% of his passes for 3,231 yards with 14 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, along with 44 carries for 192 yards and 3 touchdowns. Shaun Hill is the back-up.
Adrian Peterson has 327 carries for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 30 catches for 222 yards. Peterson won his third NFL rushing title after being suspended for all but one game last year. He is probable with a back injury. Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata will also get carries. The two have combined for 30 catches this season.
Receiver Stefon Diggs has 52 catches for 720 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Kyle Rudolph has 49 catches for 495 yards and 4 touchdowns. Mike Wallace has 39 catches for 473 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jarius Wright has 34 catches for 442 yards. Charles Johnson and Adam Thielen each have at least 9 catches. Johnson is questioanble with an ankle injury. Tight end Rhett Ellison is out for the season with a knee injury. Seven defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.
Seattle is 4-0 ATS after scoring more than 30 points and after allowing less than 90 yards, 6-1 overall, 4-1 after a straight up win and after a cover, 4-1-1 after gaining more than 350 total yards, and in road games, 18-7-1 against teams with winning home records, 5-2 in January and 39-18-2 on fieldturf. The favorite has covered the last four games in this series.
Minnesota is 6-0 ATS after gaining more than 350 total yards, 5-0 against teams with winning home records, 10-2 after a straight up win, 5-1 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, 4-1 in playoff home games, 7-2 against teams with winning records, 10-3 at home, 20-7 after a cover, 19-7 after allowing more than 250 passing yards and passing for less than 150 yards, 20-8 against NFC teams, and on fieldturf, and 36-17 overall. The over is 4-1 in this series recently.
The Vikings are still a young team but are learning. The extremely cold weather should keep it closer than it was last month, but Seattle is still a better team. I like the Seahawks to win, but the Vikings hang around for a while.