Many teams have tried to emulate the Seattle Seahawks' (6-5) winning formula, combining a dominate defense with a power running game and an accurate quarterback who limits mistakes and prolongs drives with timely passes.
This year it appears the Minnesota Vikings (8-3) have found the right blend, but they’ll be put to the test when Seattle comes to town for Sunday afternoon’s critical NFC matchup at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Vikings are once again riding the heels of running back Adrian Peterson’s stellar production, ranking first in the NFL with 146.4 rushing yards per game with Peterson also leading the league with 1,164 yards and eight touchdowns.
Peterson padded his stats with an unstoppable 158 yards and two scores in Week 12’s 20-10 victory over Atlanta, but the Vikings defense once again stood out. Limiting the Falcons typically high-powered offense to 326 total yards and 10 points, and forcing three turnovers, Minnesota’s now second in the NFL allowing 17.6 points per game and No. 4 overall against the pass.
Minnesota’s stout secondary is led by 37-year-old cornerback Terence Newman, who’s defended 10 passes and intercepted another three, while second-year linebacker Anthony Barr continues to grow as the team’s best defensive player with 61 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and five passes defensed.
The victory place the Vikings in first place in the NFC North for the second time this season, and they continue to angle for their first division title in six years, but the Seahawks seem to have shaken off their early season woes.
Seattle came up with a huge 39-30 victory over Pittsburgh, its fourth win in the last five games, to move into NFC’s final wild card spot behind quarterback Russell Wilson’s career-high five touchdown passes and 81 rushing yards from rookie running back Thomas Rawls.
Wilson’s now completed eight touchdown passes with no interceptions in the last two games, and he’s posed the two best passer ratings of the season in back-to-back games.
Rawls filled in for the injured Marshawn Lynch and scored his third touchdown of season against Pittsburgh, and is averaging 5.6 yards per carry for Seattle’s No. 2 rushing attack.
With Lynch’s recovering from surgery to his groin, and likely out for the year, and tight end Jimmy Graham also lost for the season after tearing his patella tendon, Rawls will see lots more attempts against a Vikings defense that’s struggled against the run. Minnesota’s only No. 20 in the league with 110.6 yards allowed per game.
Betting Odds: Pick (PK)
Over/under: 41.5 points
Prediction: Seattle over Minnesota, 20-13