The Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks aim to bolster their respective bids toward a division title at the other's expense on Monday night when they meet in the Pacific Northwest. Minnesota entered its bye having won six of seven and resides in a tie with Green Bay atop the NFC North while the Seahawks have emerged victorious in four in a row to keep the heat on San Francisco in the West.
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"This is a huge game for both of us. We know the stakes. Everybody knows the stakes," Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks said. "Monday night makes it a little bit bigger, in Seattle." Minnesota's Kirk Cousins has upped the ante with his recent play, strengthening his league-best 114.8 passer rating by throwing for 18 touchdowns against one interception in his last seven games. Although Seattle's Russell Wilson trails his former Big Ten adversary in passer rating (112.1), he has eviscerated the competition at home to the tune of tossing 14 touchdowns and rushing for two more in five games. Wilson added to his resume last Sunday by becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to begin his career with eight straight winning seasons following the Seahawks' 17-9 victory in Philadelphia.
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Seahawks -3 O/U: 50
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (8-3): Cousins enters Monday's tilt against Seattle's 29th-ranked pass defense with the longest active streak in the league with 177 consecutive attempts without an interception. Stefon Diggs recorded his fourth triple-digit receiving-yard performance in his last six games after finishing with a team-high 121 and a touchdown in Minnesota's 27-23 victory over Denver on Nov. 17. Fellow wideout Adam Thielen is trending toward a possible return following a nagging hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the better part of six weeks, save for a brief cameo in the Vikings' 26-23 to Kansas City on Nov. 3. A potent rushing game is a good way to keep defenses honest, with Dalvin Cook rushing for his league second-best 11th touchdown of the season despite being limited to a season-low 26 yards against the Broncos.
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (9-2): Coach Pete Carroll admitted that Wilson's trusted wideout Tyler Lockett "maybe wasn't 100 percent" after returning from a leg bruise that required an immediate visit to the hospital. "He feels really good now," Carroll said of the speedy Lockett, who had just one catch for 38 yards against the Eagles. "... He could run and play and all that. He just feels better now. I think it's going to take all the way to Monday to really kinda put it in the rearview mirror, but he's in good shape." While Lockett is bidding to find the end zone in his seventh straight home game, former first-round pick Rashaad Penny will attempt to build off a career-high 129-yard rushing performance against Minnesota's sixth-ranked rush defense. Fellow running back Chris Carson wasn't as fortunate in last week's win over Philadelphia, putting forth a season-low 26 yards while putting the ball on the ground for a league-high seventh time.
1. Seattle sports a 28-5-1 record (.838) in prime-time regular-season games with Carroll at the helm, including 18-2 at home.
2. The teams are meeting for the third straight year and second time in as many seasons on Monday night, with the Seahawks posting a 21-7 victory on Dec. 10.
3. Minnesota TE Kyle Rudolph has a touchdown reception in each of his last three games.