EAGAN, Minn. — This is about as real as it gets in the preseason.
The Vikings will play their final home game of the 2018 exhibition schedule when they host the Seahawks at 7 (CT) tonight.
This is the third straight year the Vikings and Seahawks will meet in the preseason. Minnesota traveled to Seattle in 2016 and 2017, and the teams split those games.
The Vikings will also travel to Seattle for a Week 14 matchup on ESPN's Monday Night Football.
Minnesota has had an up-and-down preseason slate so far, winning in Denver before falling at home to Jacksonville this past weekend.
Seattle dropped its first two preseason contests.
Here are three areas to watch in Friday's contest, plus some noteworthy stats on both teams:
Dalvin's return? | By @Eric_L_Smith
Perhaps the most exciting player for the Vikings through the first month of the 2017 season was running back Dalvin Cook.
The second-round pick thrived right away as a rookie, rushing for 127 yards in his professional debut. He ended up with 354 yards and two touchdowns, plus 11 catches for 90 yards, in three-plus games before tearing his ACL in Week 4 against Detroit.
It remains to be seen if Cook plays against Seattle. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has decided to not tip his hand on that decision. Cook did not play in the Vikings first two preseason games, but if the team does want to get him some work, the third preseason game would be ideal because starters usually don't play the fourth preseason game.
The Vikings could choose to be cautious, too, and wait until the regular-season opener against the 49ers. Cook has looked quick and explosive in practices, including joint sessions against Jacksonville, and could be building for a Week 1 return.
Offense wants to bounce back | By @LindseyMNSports
The Vikings offense had a rough outing in Saturday's preseason game against the Jaguars, and the unit is looking to bounce back and get into a rhythm tonight.
Adam Thielen and Kirk Cousins talked earlier this week about the importance of stringing together successful series, converting third downs and being effective in the red zone. Cousins called tonight's game against the Seahawks the team's best chance at a "dress rehearsal" before the regular season kicks off on Sept. 9.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo also said he wants to see the offense find its groove and hopefully put up a performance more like Minnesota's first preseason game at Denver. It will be interesting to see how long the Vikings starters on offense play and if they're able to get rolling.
"You saw us on that first drive get a couple first downs, and then you can kind of open it up a little bit," DeFilippo said. "I think whenever you're just on and off the field, it just makes it really, really hard to get done what you want to get done."
Eyes on Iloka | By @pcraigers
The final two weeks of a preseason isn't an ideal time to land with a new team, but safety George Iloka joined a Vikings defense loaded with talent this week after his release by the Bengals.
Iloka played for Zimmer in Cincinnati from 2012-13 and teamed with Terence Newman there for three seasons before Newman joined Minnesota in 2015. Those connections influenced Iloka's decision to opt for Minnesota over other suitors.
"Obviously my priority was to go into a good situation, go to a winning team, and a place that had a plan for me or just a place that I felt that I could help the team out in any kind of way, so that's what made this decision pretty easy," Iloka said.
It normally would be quite difficult for a safety to step right into a defense after one practice, but Zimmer said Iloka remembered "85 percent" of the calls on Wednesday. Zimmer said signing Iloka wasn't a move to replace anyone.
Iloka said he is comfortable with any role to be determined. He knows the Vikings staff can be quite creative in its use of defensive players.
— Vikings running backs lead players at their position in yards from scrimmage in the preseason with 403. Rookie Roc Thomas leads the Vikings with 168 yards from scrimmage, while fellow rookie Mike Boone has 135 total yards.
— Minnesota and Seattle have each won two division titles over the past four seasons. The Vikings won the NFC North in 2015 and 2017, while the Seahawks won the NFC West in 2014 and 2016.
— Only 17 players on the Vikings current roster were on the team when Minnesota and Seattle met in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs in January of 2016.
— Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson has hit all seven of his kicks in the preseason. He has made all five extra points and a pair of field goals, including a 57-yard attempt.
"I feel like this is our best chance at a dress rehearsal. We'd really like to establish a rhythm and build some confidence, get some reps together and just get a flow going of converting third downs, playing well in the red zone, moving the football, having to mix the run and the pass. We need all that to make up ground and be ready to go for Week 1."
— Cousins on the Vikings offense heading into Friday night's game