History: The Vikings Need Epic Rushing Performances to Win in Seattle

Photo: USA Today Sports

Tomorrow afternoon sometime, the Minnesota Vikings will arrive at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Due to new NFL restrictions centered around viruses and 2020 team initiatives surrounding social justice, they’ll leave the hotel in 107 buses (probably) and take an educational tour through what remains of the CHAZ/CHOP zone (maybe) before reaching their final destination.

Eventually, they will line up opposite the Seahawks and football will be played (barring no positive tests for COVID). Over the last decade, the football part of these business/pleasure Seattle field trips has been the worst part. Minnesota hasn’t won a professional football game in Seattle since 2006 when Brad Johnson was chucking passes and Chester Taylor was stomping on Seahawks for 169 yards and a TD.

Even worse, they’ve only one there twice in history, the other being in 1990 behind 99 yards and a TD from Herschel Walker that included 6.19 YPC and this 50+ yard scamper…

Hello Dalvin Cook

If stuffing a football down the throat of a Seahawk is the only way a Viking can kill it, then we might be in luck for 2020. Minnesota rosters the league’s best running back, in Dalvin Cook. He’s already racked up 424 yards and 6 touchdowns, in just 4 games (5.7 YPC).

Obviously, the Purple will need him again if they are to be successful on Sunday. At 49.3%, they run the ball more than nearly everyone in the league (3rd) but Dalvin is more than that to this offense. Kirk Cousins and Gary Kubiak’s passing game may rely on him more than it relies on Kirk to make pre or post-snap reads. That’s not a knock on Kirk, necessarily. Play action passes don’t really allow quarterbacks to go through progressions.

In 2019, Cousins threw off of play action 31.3% of the time (according to ESPN), good for 4th in the league. In 2020, Kirk continues to be way better when he can rely on a Dalvin Cook fake before throwing looking to throw.

Seahawks Defense

According to Football Outsiders, the 2020 Seattle Seahawks rank 6th in efficiency rating league-wide, when their opponents run the ball. Against the pass, they rank near the bottom at 29th. Old-school numbers say the same thing. Seattle has given up just 75.8 YPG on the ground and just 3.4 YPC.

Our Stephen Strom Previews Seahawks/Vikings with (Seattle) Tacoma News Tribune Reporter, Gregg Ball

If Minnesota can find a way to establish the run (Herschel Walker and Chester Taylor style), I honestly think the Vikings will win. On paper, this looks like a Kirk Cousins game, given the passing/rushing matchup with Seattle’s defense but a Kirk Cousins game has never led to a Vikings victory. I don’t recommend they try changing that on Sunday night.

A Russell Wilson vs Kirk Cousins shootout will definitely NOT end well. The Vikings need to control the clock as best they can and keep Seattle’s asshat QB on the sideline. And as we discussed earlier, establishing the run makes Kirk a way better QB.

Dalvin Cook + Big Day + Seattle = Victory. It’s science.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan