In what will be the final Wild Card game this weekend, the NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings will take on the Seattle Seahawks. This will be a rematch between the two teams, as they faced of during week 13 in Seattle, during which Seattle blew out the Vikings in a rout, winning 38-7.
However, not only have times changed since then, but the rematch is now in Minnesota, where temperatures could reach record lows for an NFL game.
The biggest story to come out of this game is simply: how will the Vikings, despite all of their strengths, be able to shutdown the rejuvenated offense of the Seattle Seahawks, led by star quarterback Russell Wilson? From week’s 11 to 17, Wilson had a passer rating of 132.8, threw for 1906 yards, and more alarmingly, threw 24 touchdowns and only ONE interception. Of those seven games, the Seahawks only lost once (a 23-17 loss at home to the St. Louis Rams in week 16).
Seattle will be without starting running back Marshawn Lynch, who has been plagued by injuries all season long.
In his place, Christine Michaels (who has also seen the majority of carries after Thomas Rawls suffered a season-ending injury) will take the majority of carries, and Derrick Coleman will receives touches as well.
As for the Vikings, it’s not even a surprise who will get the carries for them… Adrian Peterson.
The 30-year old running back won the NFL rushing title this season, rushing for a league-high 1,485 yards to go along with his 11 touchdowns. The quarterback leading the Vikings offense is Teddy Bridgewater, who has improved vastly from his rookie season. He threw for 3231 yards, throwing 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions, but also rushing for three touchdowns.
His best targets (aside from Peterson) were tight end Kyle Rudolph (49 receptions for 495 yards and five touchdowns), and veteran wide receiver Mike Wallace (39 receptions for 473 yards and two touchdowns). As for defense, with plenty of playmakers, they’ve had success throughout the season, ranking 12th in passing yards allowed (Seattle, however, was second). In rushing defense, they finished 17th in the league (but Seattle ended up with the top rushing defense).
Overall, Seattle, especially with their “Legion of Boom” secondary, led by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor, seems to have the edge over the Vikings in multiple phases of the game. But Minnesota plays like a tough, gritty team, and has proven to their opponents that they should not be taken likely.
It definitely has the makings of being an intensely physical battle.
(Photo credit: Steven Bisig/ USA Today Sports)