Seattle 31, Vikings 17
One man’s prediction: The Vikings are in much better shape health-wise than last week. Yes, QB Christian Ponder is dealing with a dislocated left shoulder, but several starters are expected to return, including RT Phil Loadholt, S Jamarca Sanford and CB Chris Cook. But the Seahawks are 9-1, own the best defense in the NFL and have a 12-game winning streak at home.
Ponder didn’t let an interception on the opening drive of his last start ruin his performance. But he can’t take risky chances against a Seattle defense that has the best secondary in the NFL. The Seahawks have forced 22 turnovers, which is tied for second most in the league. They are tied for first with 13 interceptions. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas have four interceptions apiece.
Yes, the NFL has become a passing league, but this game features a couple of heavyweight running backs in Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. Their statistics are remarkably similar and they both love to punish defenders. Both teams rank in the middle of the pack in run defense, so this is a big challenge for both units. “They’re both beasts, that’s the way to explain it,” Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. “I love playing against Marshawn. If you can’t get up to a game plan against him, he’s going to let you know about it. Those two are probably most similar to each other than anyone in the league.”
The Seahawks own the loudest home-field advantage in the NFL at CenturyLink Field. They have won 12 consecutive games at home and are 63-29 there since 2002, the second-best home record in the NFL in that span. Crowd noise is always a factor at CenturyLink. Opponents have committed 127 false start penalties since 2005, the highest number of any venue.
MANO-A-MANO: MATCHUP TO WATCH
Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Seahawks CB Richard Sherman
The first-round pick could make his first career start in place of Jerome Simpson. Patterson played a season-high 39.6 percent of the offensive snaps last week and caught his first touchdown pass.
The 2012 first-team All-Pro cornerback already has four interceptions, one of which he returned 58 yards for a score at Houston. Since 2011, Sherman leads the NFL with 16 interceptions and 52 pass breakups.
Who has the edge?
Sherman is considered the best cornerback in the league. He’s big (6-3, 195 pounds), physical and loves to disrupt receivers by pressing them at the line. Patterson is a physical receiver, but he’s yet to face a cornerback as talented as Sherman.
THE BIG NUMBER
364-152 Point differential during the Seahawks’ franchise-record 12-game winning streak. In their favor, of course.
Percy Harvin, Seahawks: Harvin officially is listed as probable, which means it’s a “virtual certainty” that he will play. Harvin missed the first 10 games after having hip surgery, but he’s probably highly motivated to put on a show against his former team. Harvin’s arrival will make a formidable offense better.