One man’s prediction: Seahawks 24, Vikings 18 The Vikings put forth their worst performance of the season against the Seahawks last month. Dominated on both sides of the ball, they lost a pair of key defenders to injuries and fell behind by 35 in the third quarter. The Vikings, who feel that 38-7 loss was a turning point in their season, won’t get blown out this time. But with their season on the line, they will again be overmatched against the reigning NFC champions.
Brrrrrring it on
The prominent story line all week was the frigid weather that hit the Twin Cities this weekend. Initial forecasts called for the temperature to be below zero, but now we are looking at a balmy 2 degrees, which is still pretty cold. I suppose the elements will give a little bit of an advantage to the Vikings, but the Seahawks, with their running game and top-ranked defense, are built for this kind of weather, too.
The gang’s all here
Back in Week 13, the Vikings, who were already without nose tackle Linval Joseph, lost standout safety Harrison Smith and outside linebacker Anthony Barr in the first quarter of the loss to Seattle. They would allow a season-high 433 yards against the Seahawks. They still would have likely gotten smoked on that miserable day, but getting Smith and Barr back, and now likely Joseph, too, will help the Vikings defense keep this game close.
Lynch won’t return
Two former Pro Bowl players will return for the Seahawks, so the Vikings are not the only team that is getting difference-makers back. Left tackle Russell Okung and safety Kam Chancellor should provide a boost for Seattle … but the Seahawks will not have Marshawn Lynch, the tackle-breaking running back they call “Beast Mode,” available after a seven-game absence because of hernia surgery. He was declared out late Friday night, leaving the running game in the hands of Christine Michael and Bryce Brown. Michael rushed for more than 100 yards last week against Arizona.
The big number
150.6 Seattle averaged 150.6 rushing yards per game (400.3 total ypg) in the 10 regular-season games that Lynch (left) did not start this season. The Seahawks ran for 127 yards per game (342.5 total ypg) in games in which he was the starting tailback.
Player to watch
Russell Wilson, Seahawks Wilson is the hottest quarterback in the NFL. He has had seven consecutive games with multiple touchdown passes, including a three-TD game against the Vikings in Week 13. He threw for 274 yards in that game and rushed for another 51 and a touchdown. The Vikings must worry about Wilson hurting them when he escapes the pocket, but he has been extremely effective throwing from inside it, too.