seahawks

Road Trip — Seahawks Visit Vikings In Key Matchup

Seahawks Largest Remaining Challenge Is The Vikings

As the NFL playoff picture comes into focus, the Seattle Seahawks still find themselves riding a very fine line.  While it’s true if the Seahawks season were to end today they would make the playoffs, there is little to no margin of error for Seattle.  Continuing to win is the only insurance for the Hawks in this scenario but their biggest remaining challenge to do so is up next—the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings have enjoyed a breakout season after years of mediocrity and they’ve been able to do so despite the dark cloud that surrounded their star running back, Adrian Peterson, for much of the offseason.  Seattle’s challenge will be to stop Peterson, and the Vikings, in Minneapolis if they hope to stay in the playoff chase.

Here’s is what I’ll be watching for if the Seahawks are to find a victory in Minnesota.

AP

Stopping Adrian Peterson is the challenge for the Seahawks this week.

Stopping Adrian Peterson is the challenge for the Seahawks this week.

Many would argue that the heart and soul of the Seahawks has to be Marshawn Lynch.  I agree that Lynch is a huge part of what Seattle does offensively.  He’s also an inspiration to all of his teammates, from both sides of the ball, when he’s able to go Beastmode.

As much as Lynch means to the Seahawks, I think that Peterson means more to the Vikings.  Teddy Bridgewater has thrown eight touchdowns on the season to four different receivers.  By comparison, the Vikings have 10 rushing touchdowns by their backs, and eight of them belong to Peterson.

In 11 games, Peterson has run for nearly 1200 yards and averaged nearly five yards per carry.  Lynch might be the “heart and soul” but Peterson IS the Vikings offense.  If the Seahawks can take that away, the Vikes have very little to fall back on.

I look for the Seahawks to do something defensively to sell out against the run.  I’ll be watching for eight, maybe even nine guys up in the box on a consistent basis.   The Hawks have to make Bridgewater throw the ball more than he wants to.

The Seattle Offense

Turn Rawls loose against the Vikings defense. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Turn Rawls loose against the Vikings defense. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota defense isn’t bad.  They are actually a lot better than people realize.  Statistically, they are actually better than Seattle’s defense, in some areas.  For instance, Seattle is allowing 232 yards passing per game to their opponents which ranks them 9th in the NFL.  The Vikings allow just 223 yards which ranks them 4th in the NFL.

The numbers look a bit more favorable for the Seahawks when you start examining the Vikings run defense, however.  The Vikings are allowing better than 110 yards on the ground per game.  That ranks them out at 21st in the NFL. 

Even without Lynch, I think this is the area where the Seahawks have to attack on offense.  Thomas Rawls has been most impressive subbing for Lynch this season.  The Vikings whole game plan is to control the clock with their ground game.  The Seahawks will need to steal that page from the Viking’s play book if they are to be victorious in this one.  Against this Vikings defense, I think you have to turn Rawls loose and give him at least 25 rushes.

The rushing attack can’t be just about Rawls either.  The Seahawks have gotten away from Russell Wilson keeping the ball on the read option a bit this season.  I think it pops back up in this one.  I look for the Seahawks to pound the ground in this one, repeatedly, with both Wilson and Rawls.

Prediction

A Seahawks win in this one hinges on two things – stopping Peterson and establishing an effective ground game themselves, all while in a hostile environment.

The Seahawks will rise to this challenge and win, 23-14.

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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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