Seattle finally seems to be getting the hang of this whole NFL parity thing this season.
After two years of dominating the NFC with a 25-5 regular-season record, a 5-1 postseason mark and two Super Bowl appearances, the Seahawks have become the face of the roller-coaster ride that is the NFL.
They started the season with two losses. Then they won two. Then they lost two. Then they won two. Then they lost one. And now they’ve won two on their way to TCF Bank Stadium in search of their first three-game winning streak. For those keeping track, that’s three two-game winning streaks and two two-game losing streaks wedged into 11 games.
And what a contrast they will face this week, going from the Steelers (59 passes, 14 runs) to the Vikings and Adrian Peterson.
Here’s our Early Look at the Seahawks …
NEXT UP: Seattle Seahawks, noon CT, Sunday, TCF Bank Stadium. The Seahawks are 6-5, 2-3 on the road. They’re coming off three straight home games in which they’ve stayed true to their inconsistent pattern this season. They gave up 39 points in a loss to Arizona and scored 39 points in a win nine-point win over Pittsburgh a week ago.
STRENGTH OF VICTORY: If the Vikings are going to be questioned because of their strength of victory percentage (.420), then the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks should be too. The Vikings have beaten only two teams that now have a winning record: Atlanta, which is 6-5 and riding a four-game losing streak, and Kansas City, which is 6-5 and riding a five-game winning streak since losing to the Vikings. Seattle has a strength-of-victory percentage of .364, worst in the NFC and fifth-worst in the league. The Seahawks’ only win against a team that currently has a winning record came Sunday when they beat Pittsburgh (6-5). Seattle’s other wins have come against Detroit, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco twice.
BLOWN LEADS: The Seahawks have held a fourth-quarter lead in all five of their losses. That makes them both dangerous and uncharacteristically vulnerable.
KEY INJURIES: The Vikings will face two fewer headaches with running back Marshawn Lynch (hernia surgery) still out and tight end Jimmy Graham (torn patellar tendon) going down for the season on Sunday. Center Patrick Lewis started Sunday despite being questionable with ankle and knee injuries. Cornerback Jeremy Lane, who was injured in the Super Bowl, came off the physically unable to perform list and played his first game of the season on Sunday.
SHAKEUP AT RIGHT CORNER: Coach Pete Carroll isn’t afraid to make bold moves. Cary Williams started the first 10 games at right cornerback. But he was so ineffective that Carroll benched him in the 10th game in favor of DeShawn Shead, a 6-2, 220-pound strong safety. Shead then started for only the third time in his career a week ago. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tested Shead on the third snap of the game, launching a classic Big Ben deep ball to Martavis Bryant. But Shead was right there in tight coverage to break it up and force an early punt. The Seahawks also used Lane at corner as well. He had an interception and 54-yard return on Sunday.
SOMETHING TO REMEMBER: Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka, who spent his rookie training camp with the Vikings in 2008, has made 21 of 22 field goal attempts, but has missed three PATs in the past two games. He’s had one blocked in each of the past two games.
A LOOK AT THE FILM …
OFFENSE: Some thoughts while watching the 39-30 win over the Steelers in Seattle on Sunday: Seattle’s offensive line is inconsistent, at best, and breakdowns come across the board, which is the main reason Russell Wilson has been sacked a league-high 37 times. … Lewis, the center, was either affected by his knee/ankle injuries or he’s going to be at a distinct disadvantage when he faces Vikings powerful NT Linval Joseph. Lewis was shoved aside on an early third-and-long blitz and struggled during the game. … Like all elite quarterbacks, Wilson makes blemishes around him disappear. He gets pressured too often and isn’t a particularly good passer on the run. But his throws are so quick, crisp and accurate that he turns a lot of third-and-longs into first downs or touchdowns, as he did on his first touchdown, a 16-yarder that came after a teammate committed a stupid unnecessary roughness penalty with the ball at the 1-yard line. … Seattle’s receivers aren’t physical mismatches. And Wilson doesn’t throw the ball a lot, ranking 21st in pass attempts (325). But you don’t want to get into a shootout with good receivers and a 68-percent shooter like Wilson. Pittsburgh tried that and Wilson responded with a career-high five touchdown passes, 345 yards on 21 completions and a 147.9 passer rating. Receiver Doug Baldwin had six catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter that covered a total of 110 yards. … As for running back, yes, Lynch is “Beast Mode,” but Thomas Rawls is the just another example that very good backs are plentiful. Rawls is an undrafted rookie, but he’s got 685 yards rushing, a 5.6-yard average and plenty of power and young-man cuts to be as much of a concern in this offense as Lynch would be. Maybe more considering Lynch’s age and wear and tear even if he were healthier. Rawls had only 81 yards and a 3.9-yard average, but his longest run of 17 showed the power, determination and cutting ability to make the Vikings take notice.
DEFENSE: Watching the Steelers game, I repeatedly took note of how long Ben Roethlisberger had to stand there and throw the ball. On one deep ball, he patted the ball and made at least three hitches before launching a 41-yard moon shot to Markus Wheaton to set up a touchdown. Wheaton also had a 69-yard touchdown during a nine-catch, 201-yard effort. Granted, this was the Steelers. They’re fearless with the deep ball because they have a Redwood of a QB who extends plays and isn’t afraid to throw it 55 times, like he did during a 36-completion, 456-yard effort (the eighth 400-yard game of his career) on Sunday. … Seattle needs to blitz to get pressure on the quarterback. But they certainly have that option because the secondary is still a strength and can obviously take on heavy doses of man coverage. Look for them to continue the trend of teams sending extra defenders, either to harass Teddy Bridgewater or clog running lanes for Adrian Peterson. … Despite taking a number of blows from Big Ben, the Seahawks handed out some of their own punishment, including four interceptions, three by the secondary. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor each had one in the fourth quarter. I don’t know if Sherman is the best corner in the league, but he’s close enough to the top that it’s not worth yelling at Erin Andrews about. … Not sure if it was a game-plan move designed specifically to protect against Pittsburgh’s deep ball, but Seattle practically invited the Steelers to throw underneath to the tight end, which Pittsburgh did often until Heath Miller was hurt in the first half. Kyle Rudolph could have a big game, but obviously Seattle won’t be as concerned about the Vikings’ deep ball. They’ll be playing closer to the line of scrimmage to stop Peterson and guard against Bridgewater’s ability to escape from the pocket and run.
RANKINGS: Offense: 8th (2 rushing, 22 passing). Defense 4 (5 rushing, 9 passing). Scoring: 8th (24.3). Scoring defense: 8th (20.2).
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Number of sacks allowed by the Seahawks. That ranks last in the league for total sacks allowed and sacks allowed per pass play.
TURNOVER MARGIN: Plus-5 (7th)
They have 16 takeaways (eight interceptions, eight fumbles) and 11 giveaways (seven interceptions, four fumbles). The four lost fumbles are tied for fifth-fewest in the league.