The Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings meet for the second time this year Sunday, though this one means more than the last given it's the NFC Wild Card Round.
Though Seattle took home a 38-7 blowout on the road against these Vikings in Week 13, Las Vegas reflects the notion much has changed around the home team by keeping this game's line hovering around the touchdown mark.
Why not? Seattle's hot, closing the season on a 6-1 tear, but it also on the road. On the road against a Vikings team that seemed to use the blowout as a turning point, closing the season on a 3-1 tear and playing the best football it has all season.
Below, let's take a look at the betting environment surrounding the game and nail down a prediction.
When: Sunday, January 10, at 1:05 p.m. ET
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Spread: Seattle (-5)
Preview and Odds Breakdown
Bettors might want to shake the memory of the first game from their minds.
It seems Las Vegas has. There, Seattle got a trio of touchdowns by Russell Wilson and Thomas Rawls rushed for 101 yards and a score on 19 totes. Overkill, really, given the final score and the fact the Seattle defense held Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a 17-of-28 line for 118 yards with an interception and took Adrian Peterson out of the game, holding him to 18 yards on eight chances.
Since, Seattle beat miserable Baltimore and Cleveland teams, lost to St. Louis and blew away Arizona.
Meanwhile, Minnesota turned around on a short week for a Thursday game and lost to Arizona on the road by just three points before not only blowing away Chicago and the New York Giants, but taking down Green Bay at Lambeau Field to steal the NFC North crown.
Vikings brace for one of the coldest games in NFL history:... https://t.co/5nDxOqcc5u— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 7, 2016
Seattle has leaned on Wilson for production as of late, and he's morphed into a force with 24 touchdowns over the 6-1 streak.
Wilson might not have a ton of chances to make plays against a Minnesota defense that ranks 12th against the pass, allowing just 234.9 yards through the air per game. Marshawn Lynch has been announced as out, per Jeyson Jenks of the Seattle Times, and Rawls is gone for the season, so Seattle will be forced to lean on Wilson again.
Minnesota, though, will likely focus on its ground game. Bridgewater's completed 65.3 percent of his passes this year but only managed 14 touchdowns to nine interceptions. His first encounter with the Seattle defense is a good example of the inconsistency that can plague the Minnesota passing attack at times.
Bridgewater directs a relatively inexperienced team in terms of the playoffs, but it's not something coach Mike Zimmer sounds worried about because he'd rather focus on nailing down the fundamentals that failed his team in the first game against the Seahawks.
"They beat us pretty badly last time we played them," Zimmer said, according to ESPN.com. "It wasn't close, they got after us in every phase, so we have to perform extremely well for us to play good in this game. "We can't worry about the playoff experience until we do the things right in order for us to win."
Weather, experience levels, injuries and more give observers a pretty good idea as to why the line stands as so.
Inclement weather actually slows things down and favors the home team in this one.
If this turns into a low-scoring affair between two elite backs and defenses, Peterson and the Vikings can pull ahead. For what it's worth, Odds Shark has the Vikings at 13-3 against the spread this year, meaning the first game against the Seahawks was an anomaly.
Bettors will want to go with the hot hand here. Seattle's hot, too, but Minnesota has grown up over the past few weeks and won divisional titles on the road. Using a home crowd, rough weather and an elite back to their advantage, look for the Vikings to grind out a win late.
Prediction: Vikings 24, Seahawks 21