The Vikings got back on the winning track last week, out-dueling the Washington Redskins 34-27 at Mall of America Field on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football. This week the Vikings will hit the road to take on the red-hot Seattle Seahawks, who haven’t lost a regular season game at CenturyLink Field since Christmas Eve 2011 and are 9-1 overall after going on a five-game winning streak.
Sunday’s game will mark the Vikings second trip to Seattle in as many seasons. Last year they came out on the short end, losing a 30-20 despite a monster day from
Let’s take a look at five storylines to watch this week as the Vikings and Seahawks prepare to battle…
1. Ponder progressing, could start Sunday
The starting quarterback position has been a bit of a revolving door for the Vikings this season, with three different passers logging starts so far. But one of them –
2. Percy Harvin expected to return to face former team; Seattle getting healthy
It’s not a certainty as of Wednesday morning, but it’s widely expected that Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin will make his debut with the club this weekend, with his former team coming to town. Harvin had a tremendous four seasons with the Vikings, winning rookie of the year honors in 2009 while helping the Vikings get to the NFC title game and then developing into one of the NFL’s most dynamic offensive weapons over the next few years. His addition to Seattle’s offense could be a profound one, but hopefully not in time for Sunday’s game against the Vikings.
The Seahawks could see the return of a few other important players, including right tackle Breno Giacomini, left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger.
3. Big challenge: Handling Seattle’s home-field advantage
As mentioned above, Seattle hasn’t lost at home since the end of 2011. This means quarterback Russell Wilson, in his third season right now, has never lost on his home field. The crowd noise is as loud at CenturyLink Field as it is anywhere in the NFL, rivaling Mall of America Field when the Vikings home stadium is rocking and rolling. The best way to neutralize a noisy atmosphere is to run the ball and take a lead early. That’s obviously easier said (or written) than done, of course, so the Vikings have quite the challenge in front of them. Here’s the good news: Seattle is middle of the road when it comes to defending the run, and they are tied with the Dallas Cowboys for most runs of 10 yards allowed this season (39).
4. MVP vs. Beast Mode
Speaking of the running game, this week’s matchup features two of the best running backs in the NFL. Seattle boasts Marshawn Lynch, a tough runner with a combination of size, strength and speed that is rare even in the NFL. He can burst through a hole as quickly as anyone not named Adrian Peterson and he’s also one of the League’s best at breaking tackles, getting to the second level and then running away from a defense. Lynch is second in the NFL through 10 weeks with 871 rushing yards.
As for the Vikings, they feature the reigning NFL MVP in the backfield. Peterson is fourth in the NFL with 786 rushing yards and he leads the League with nine rushing touchdowns. In last year’s matchup, Peterson was dominant. He had a 74-yard run early in the game and continually pounded Seattle’s talented defense throughout the contest, keeping the Vikings in it despite shaky play in other areas of the offense that day.
5. Familiar foes
From Carl Eller and Bob Lurtsema through John Randle and Steve Hutchinson and all the way to Heath Farwell and Percy Harvin, the connections between the Vikings and Seahawks franchise run long and deep throughout history. Harvin and Farwell are joined by head coach Pete Carroll, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, kicker Steven Hauschka and receiver Sidney Rice (on Reserve/Injured list) as current Seahawks players/coaches with direct ties to the Vikings. Also, Seattle General Manager John Schneider, Assistant Director of Pro Personnel Trent Kirchner and Director of Player Health and Performance Sam Ramsden all have Minnesota ties. On the Vikings side,