WEEK 13: NOON VS. SEATTLE • CH. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)
One man’s prediction: Seahawks 20, Vikings 16 Sunday’s showdown figures to be one of the toughest games for the Vikings, right up there with the Broncos and the Packers. The Seahawks defense has not been dominant, but it’s still stingy. Their offense has been clicking, with rookie back Thomas Rawls running hard and Russell Wilson throwing eight touchdown passes the past two weeks. This figures to be another close one, but the Vikings will be on the losing end.
Russell Mania: The Vikings should get a workout against Wilson, one of the league’s most elusive quarterbacks. The Seahawks still use read-option runs on a dozen or so plays per game, but Wilson is not keeping the ball on those plays quite as often this season. He is still a major threat, though, when he escapes the pocket on passing plays. If the Vikings let him get out, he can hurt them like Aaron Rodgers did two weeks ago.
One in, another out: Standout safety Harrison Smith will play after a one-week absence, but the Vikings will be without nose tackle Linval Joseph, who has a foot injury. This defense has been without at least one key contributor every week since Week 4, whether it’s been Everson Griffen, Sharrif Floyd, Eric Kendricks, Smith or now Joseph. Floyd will start at the nose, but playing up a weight class against this running attack is a lot to ask.
Look out, Teddy: The Vikings prevented quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from getting sacked in the win over the Falcons. A repeat performance will be difficult against the Seahawks, who have one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league. Defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril have combined for 14 sacks. Avril will be an especially tough matchup for rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings, who protected poorly in Atlanta.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Richard Sherman: Sherman, the outstanding and outspoken Seahawks cornerback, is an imposing presence on the left side of that defense. Sherman, with his size and intelligence, is capable of taking away that whole third of the field. The Vikings are certainly aware of Sherman, but Bridgewater said this week that the Vikings can’t avoid him altogether. He will have to be careful, though, to not let Sherman bait him into a costly interception.