The Minnesota Vikings have a tall task on Sunday night as they'll head to Century Link Field to challenge the Seattle Seahawks. At 1-3, the Vikings have a big opportunity to turn their season around but will have to do so against a Seahawks team that has breezed to a 4-0 record.
With Sunday's game in front of a national stage, the odds of the Vikings pulling off an upset are slim. However, there are several factors that could play in their favor and help Minnesota come one step closer to .500.
How can the Vikings stop Russell Wilson?
The biggest question heading into this game is the Vikings' ability to stop Wilson. When the question was brought up by reporters this week, co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson and linebacker Eric Kendricks just laughed knowing that no team has been able to slow down Wilson this season.
After years of leaning on the running game, the Seahawks have "Let Russ Cook." Wilson has 16 touchdown passes on the season and with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Seattle's aerial assault pose a big threat for a defense that ranks last in passing yards allowed this season.
"Stopping" Wilson may be too much to ask for the Vikings, but slowing him down will be the best way to come out of Seattle with a victory.
Will the corners pass against Seattle's receivers?
For the first time since Week 1, the Vikings should have their starting corners available against Seattle. Although the group was obliterated by Aaron Rodgers in the opener, their recent performance may suggest a turnaround.
Since the Week 1 disaster against the Packers, Holton Hill has turned things around. The third-year corner has a team-high 13.5 snaps per reception per Pro Football Focus and allowed 1.29 yards per coverage snap during that time.
Mike Hughes' Week 1 performance was rough as well but was playing well against Indianapolis in Week 2 before exiting with a neck injury. With Cameron Dantzler turning in 1.15 yards per coverage snap vs. Houston, the Vikings should at least have their top guys, which will come in handy vs. Metcalf and Lockett.
Will Justin Jefferson burst into superstardom?
One of the biggest storylines in the past two weeks has been the emergence of Jefferson. Since replacing Bisi Johnson in the starting lineup, the Vikings' first-round pick has racked up 11 catches for 278 yards and a touchdown and looks like the player they wanted to replace Stefon Diggs.
Despite his last two games, Jefferson is still an under-the-radar player on a national level. In front of a nationally televised audience, Jefferson has a chance to put an exclamation point in the same way that Randy Moss did against the Packers 22 years ago on Monday Night Football.
With Tre Flowers allowing a 131.6 quarterback rating and Shaquill Griffin allowing the fourth-most yards in the NFL, Seattle's secondary can be exploited. If Jefferson takes advantage, he could become a household name on Sunday night.
Can Kirk Cousins perform in primetime?
During his career, Cousins has a 7-15 record in primetime but also owns a 98.2 quarterback rating in those games.
On Sunday, it feels like a typical recipe for Cousins' primetime failures. The Vikings will be unlikely to slow down Seattle's offense, meaning it may come down for Cousins to keep up with Wilson to come away with a victory.
As mentioned, Seattle's secondary should be exploitable especially with the absence of Jamal Adams. If Kirk can get the ball to his playmakers, he might be able to keep up. The key will be making the big play down the stretch.
Is the season on the line against Seattle?
The Vikings looked like a team that should be tanking for Trevor Lawrence in the first two weeks of the season. After making some adjustments, the Vikings showed significant improvement against Tennessee and Houston, but we still don't know who this team is.
A win against that Seahawks would make the argument that the Vikings can compete in a wide-open NFC. With the addition of a seventh playoff team, a win would pull the Vikings to 2-3 ahead of hosting Atlanta, who finds creative ways to lose games, next week.
If the Vikings lose, the Tank for Trevor, Fail for Fields, or Tumble for Trey may be on. Minnesota would be 3.5 games behind Green Bay and three behind Chicago in the NFC North, effectively cementing their spot in the top 10 of the draft.