Coming off a game where starting QB Russell Wilson threw a career high five touchdowns, the Seattle Seahawks will look to build on their two game winning streak and build their lead on the sixth and final wild card spot. It will be no easy task though, as they will have to knock off the 8-3 Minnesota Vikings, the current leaders of the NFC North.
The Vikings, winners of four of their last five, are once again riding on the shoulders of superstar RB Adrian Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher, and will look to strengthen their lead atop the NFC North over the Green Bay Packers. This is unfamiliar territory for this young Vikings team, which may present a challenge against an experienced Seahawks team that is used to playing in big games.
Speaking of Adrian Peterson, he is a key to this game for both teams. When Adrian Peterson rushes for than 115 yards this season, the Vikings are undefeated at 7-0 so far this season. They are 1-3 when Peterson runs for less than 115 yards. In the Vikings' most recent loss to the Packers, Green Bay kept Peterson mostly in check, holding him to 45 yards on 13 carries. Meanwhile, Seattle is 1-4 when allowing 100+ rushing yards this season. The Seahawks will need strong performances from DT's Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin who will need to plug up the holes and limit the ability of Peterson. That is no small task, though, as Peterson is one of the league's very best players. If the Seahawks can somewhat stop Adrian Peterson, and force QB Teddy Bridgewater to try and make plays, their chances of winning increase substantially as Bridgewater has struggled at times this season when asked to do so.
The Seahawks will need to capitalize on this opportunity against a Vikings defense that is coming into week 13 banged up. Star DT Linval Joseph has been ruled out this week with a foot injury, while both LB Anthony Barr and FS Harrison Smith will play despite dealing with injuries that have limited the two in practice this week. Joseph is a big loss because he's so essential to the run defense in Minnesota, which is going to be an important area for the Vikings' defense on Sunday. Seattle is the second ranked rushing team in the league this year, with undrafted rookie sensation Thomas Rawls leading the way. Rawls is coming off two performances of 209 yards against San Francisco and 81 against Pittsburgh, and will look to continue building upon his strong rookie campaign in Marshawn Lynch's absence. If Rawls can get going against this defense, the rest of the Seattle offense will be able to get into a rhythm, including Russell Wilson, who's been on an absolute tear the past few games. In his last two games, Russell Wilson has gone 45-59 for 605 yards, eight touchdowns, and zero interceptions, easily the best two game stretch of Wilson's career. It's been a great response by him after the scrutiny he was under following the Seahawks' Sunday night loss to the Arizona Cardinals at home.
Minnesota will be without DT Linval Joseph (foot) and S Andrew Sendejo (knee). FS Harrison Smith (knee) and LB Anthony Barr (hand/groin) are both listed as questionable, but are both expected to go. S Robert Blanton (ankle) and CB Trae Waynes (ankle) are both listed as probable.
Seattle will be without RB Marshawn Lynch (abdomen), WR Paul Richardson (hamstring), DE Demarcus Dobbs (concussion), and DT Jordan Hill (toe). FB Will Tukuafu (concussion) and CB Marcus Burley (ankle) are both listed as questionable. Meanwhile C Patrick Lewis (knee), FS Earl Thomas (hip), CB Jeremy Lane (Knee) and DE Michael Bennett (non-injury) are all listed as probable.
Prediction: Seattle 20 - Minnesota 10
This is a matchup that fares well for the Seahawks. The Vikings are more of a one dimensional team offensively than any other team Seattle has played this year so far, as they are not a huge threat through the air. This will allow Seattle to focus their attention on Adrian Peterson, who Seattle has held in check in their past matchups under Pete Carroll. Minnesota struggles when Adrian Peterson does, and with a banged up defense, Thomas Rawls and Russell Wilson should be able to succeed, especially with the improved offensive line play since C Patrick Lewis has entered into the lineup. Seattle should be able to beat Minnesota, and continue improving down the stretch.