The Minnesota Vikings absorbed their worst loss of the season to Seattle just over a month ago and now must figure out a way to turn the tables when they host the Seahawks in an NFC wild-card game on Sunday afternoon. The Vikings may get an assist from the weather, with temperatures at game time expected to be near zero with a wind chill of minus-20 degrees.
“The first thing is, we need our fans to make it an advantage for us,” Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said of the frigid forecast. The Vikings were limited to 125 total yards by Seattle in a 38-7 mauling on Dec. 6, but they recovered to win their final three games to secure the NFC North title and No. 3 seed. The Seahawks, who are coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, closed the season by winning six of their last seven games. Sixth-seeded Seattle also has won five in a row on the road while surrendering a total of 34 points in that span.
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: This line has opened anywhere between Seahawks -4 and -6 and has seen plenty of movement since. It has settled around Seahawks -4.5 at most books. With frigid temperatures in the forecast the total has been bet down from 42 to 39. Check out the complete line history here.
Seahawks – DE M. Bennett (probable Sunday, toe), DT J. Hill (probable Sunday, toe), S K. Chancellor (probable Sunday, tailbone), WR T. Lockett (probable Sunday, hip), T R. Okung (probable Sunday, calf), G J. Sweezy (probable Sunday, concussion), CB J. Lane (probable Sunday, ribs), RB M. Lynch (out Sunday, hernia), TE L. Wilson (out Sunday, concussion).
Vikings – DT L. Joseph (probable Sunday, toe), DE E. Griffen (probable Sunday, shoulder), WR A. Thielen (probable Sunday, shoulder), RB A. Peterson (probable Sunday, back), WR C. Johnson (questionable Sunday, ankle), C J. Sullivan (doubtful Sunday, back), DT K. Ellis (out Sunday, ankle).
WEATHER REPORT: As has been widely reported, it will be a frozen wasteland in Minnesota, with temperatures hovering around zero degrees. To make it evn frostier, there will also be a 7-10 mile per hour wind gusting towards the eastern end zone.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Seahawks (-6) – Vikings (-2.5) + home field (-3) = Vikings +0.5
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (10-6, 8-7-1 ATS, 7-9 O/U): Quarterback Russell Wilson has been brilliant during Seattle’s 6-1 run with 24 touchdown passes and only one interception, and he burned the Vikings by throwing for 274 yards and three scores while rushing for 51 yards. While Doug Baldwin has been Wilson’s top target with 11 TD receptions in his last six games, the buzz in Seattle revolves around the availability of running back Marshawn Lynch, who returned to practice for the first time since undergoing abdominal surgery on Nov. 25. The Seahawks rank No. 1 against the run and led the league in scoring defense (17.3 points per game).
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (11-5, 13-3 ATS, 4-11-1 O/U): Minnesota fell into a 21-0 hole in last month’s meeting and was forced to abandon the run, leaving NFL leading rusher Adrian Peterson grousing about his role after receiving only eight carries for 18 yards. Expect that number of rushing attempts to increase dramatically as the Vikings look to alleviate pressure on second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was sacked four times and held to 118 yards by the Seahawks. Minnesota’s defense was ravaged by injury in the first meeting but has permitted only 43 points during the three-game winning streak and allowed 18.9 points per contest.
* Seahawks are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games overall.
* Vikings are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games following a SU win.
* Under is 4-0 in Seahawks last four games overall.
* Under is 4-0 in Vikings last four Wildcard games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors are giving the Seahawks the slight edge in this NFC with 57 percent of wagers on Seattle. As for the total, 56 percent of wagers are on the total.
Green Bay Packers at Washington (-1, 45.5)
Washington faced an uphill battle to make the playoffs for much of the season, but they are on a roll heading into Sunday’s wild-card matchup against the visiting Green Bay Packers. Washington did not climb above .500 for the first time until Week 16 and did not post consecutive victories until rattling off four straight to close the regular season.
“It’s important to go into the playoffs with some momentum and a rhythm,” Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “It’s crucial to keep that momentum and carry it into what will be the biggest game of the year.” While the fourth-seeded Washington surged into the postseason, No. 5 Green Bay dropped its final two games to squander the NFC North title and a chance to host a game this weekend. The Packers have been in a bit of a tailspin since a 6-0 start to open the season, dropping six of their last 10 games. “We have to prove to ourselves we can win the big games,” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. ““There’s belief there, but we have to prove it to ourselves.”
TV: 4:40 p.m. ET, FOX.
LINE HISTORY: Since Washington opened as one-point home favorites the line has jumped the fence twice with Green Bay moving to 1-point favorites and then back to 1-point dogs. The total has been bet down from 46.5 to 45.5. Check out the complete line history here.
Packers – RB E. Lacy (probable Sunday, ribs), T B. Bulaga (probable Sunday, ankle), DT M. Daniels (probable Sunday, hamstring), DT L. Guion (probable Sunday, foot), G T. Lang (probable Sunday, neck), C C. Linsley (probable Sunday, ankle), LB C. Matthews (probable Sunday, ankle), LB A. Mulumba (probable Sunday, knee), LB M. Neal (probable Sunday, hip), LB N. Perry (probable Sunday, shoulder), CB D. Randall (probable Sunday, groin), G J. Sitton (probable Sunday, back), G L. Taylor (probable Sunday, knee), DE D. Jones (questionable Sunday, neck), T D. Bakhtiari (questionable Sunday, ankle), LB J. Elliot (questionable Sunday, quadricep), TE J. Perillo (questionable Sunday, hamstring), CB S. Shields (doubtful Sunday, concussion).
Washington – DE J. Hatcher (probable Sunday, knee), T T. Williams (probable Sunday, knee), CB D. Phillips (probable Sunday, neck), WR D. Jackson (probable Sunday, knee), S J. Johnson (probable Sunday, chest), RB C. Thompson (probable Sunday, toe), C K. Lichtensteiger (probable Sunday, shoulder), S D. Goldson (probable Sunday, shoulder), RB M. Jones (questionable Sunday, hip), LB P. Riley (questionable Sunday, foot), CB Q. Dunbar (questionable Sunday, quadricep), DB K. Jarrett (questionable Sunday, concussion).
WEATHER REPORT: It could be a wet and windy day at FedEx Field. There is a 66 percent chance of rain and a 14-17 mile per hour wind gusting towards teh eastern end zone. Temperatures will be in the low 50’s for the game.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Green Bay (-2) – Washington (-2) + home field (-3) = Washington -3
ABOUT THE PACKERS (10-6, 9-7 ATS, 5-11 O/U): Rodgers finished with his lowest passer rating (92.7) and completion percentage (60.7) since taking over as the team’s starter in 2008 and wound up the season by taking 13 sacks over his last two games in which Green Bay managed a combined 21 points. Rodgers is not getting much help from a ground game that produced 75 yards in last week’s home loss to Minnesota, including 34 on 13 carries by Eddie Lacy. Wide receiver Randall Cobb has made 14 catches over the last three games but has turned them into only 92 yards. The defense rebounded from an ugly loss at Arizona to hold Minnesota to 242 yards.
ABOUT WASHINGTON (9-7, 9-7 ATS, 9-7 O/U): With Washington already having locked up the NFC East title, Cousins played only one half in last week’s 34-23 victory at Dallas, throwing three scoring passes to give him 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in the last three games. Although tight end Jordan Reed had a relatively quiet season finale with four catches, he was unstoppable in the previous three games with 25 receptions for 333 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Alfred Morris is coming off his first 100-yard performance since Week 1, while Washington’s defense has collected 14 sacks over the last three games.
* Packers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 playoff road games.
* Washington is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
* Under is 6-1 in Packers last 7 vs. NFC.
* Over is 4-0 in Washington’s last 4 games overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is almost dead even in this NFC Wildcard matchup, with 51 percent of wagers giving Washington the slightest of edges. AS for the total, 65 percent of wagers are on the over.