EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Seahawks anticipate the return of multiple Pro Bowlers to their lineup when they visit the Vikings.
As for the home team?
Minnesota will be content to keep a trio of players that many considered Pro Bowl snubs — Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr and Linval Joseph — on the field this time around. Joseph was inactive, and the Vikings lost Barr and Smith in the first quarter against the Seahawks on Dec. 6.
It's never an excuse that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer will allow, but the sidelining of Smith, Barr and Joseph didn't help the outcome of what became Minnesota's worst loss of the season and second in a row at home. The Vikings, however, closed the season with a 3-1 mark thereafter and won the NFC North for the first time since 2009.
Seattle also closed its season 3-1, falling to St. Louis at home in Week 16 before defeating NFC West Champion Arizona 36-6 in the desert.
The Seahawks were without two-time Pro Bowl LT Russell Okung, RG J.R. Sweezy, TE Luke Willson, five-time Pro Bowl RB Marshawn Lynch and three-time Pro Bowl S Kam Chancellor last week.
"We're getting a few Pro Bowlers back," two-time Pro Bowl CB Richard Sherman said during a conference call Wednesday. "Anytime you're doing that, and you're winning games without them, it just strengthens your team, it strengthens the depth we have.
"Kam Chancellor is a great addition," Sherman continued. "It's going to be great to have him back with fresh legs, healthy. Marshawn, the same way. Guys don't have a ton of reps on their bodies, so they'll come back a lot more fresh for this game.
View images from the Wednesday, Jan. 6 practice at Winter Park.
Asked about the impact of the players who could return, Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll, a former Vikings assistant, said, "It adds to the confidence and the spirit of the guys … It's a really good feeling this time of year to be getting that healthy."
Identity check:Within a couple of hours and more than 1,600 miles apart Smith and Sherman were asked by media Wednesday about separate games that got out of hand in the past month.
Smith was asked about Seattle's win in Minnesota.
"We know who we are: we didn't play well, and Seattle dominated us," Smith said. "That's just how it went, and that wasn't good enough, but we went on to the next week."
The key, Smith said, was not allowing that result to hinder progress. The Vikings closed their final four games by outscoring opponents 127-70.
"I think we just kept getting better," Smith said. "We've still had games we didn't play great in, but we've learned from each week and got a few guys back from getting banged up, so we're excited about where we are and what's in front of us, but we have a lot of work to do before Sunday."
Sherman, when asked about the regular season finale, said, "It just reaffirms what we already know. We can play with anyone. We are who we think we are."
Seattle closed its final quarter of the schedule by outscoring opponents 118-48, leading the NFL in fewest points allowed for a fourth straight season (the last team with such a streak was the Cleveland Browns, 1953-57).
The Seahawks are mindful of a different streak, however, trying to make their third Super Bowl in a row.
The rundown on running backs: A storyline to follow as the week progresses is the potential matchup of marquee running backs Adrian Peterson and Lynch. Peterson did not participate Wednesday because of a lower back injury. Lynch, who has been sidelined since Nov. 15 and recovering from abdominal surgery, was listed as a full participant.
Carroll was asked during a conference call with Twin Cities media about Lynch's potential return.
"I don't know that yet, but he had a really good day today," Carroll said. "He looked just like what we remember and how he practices. He made it through the walk-throughs and all of that stuff. We'll see how he is tomorrow and we'll just do it one day at a time and see if that adds to enough of a buildup where he can play in the game. He looked very good today."
Peterson did manage to surprise "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen with an ice cream cake to celebrate Allen's 50th birthday on Wednesday in a moment captured by the Vikings Entertainment Network. Allen, who was filming for this weekend's episode of Vikings GamePlan looked sharp in a suit — on his birthday.
Injury reports: For the Vikings: In addition to Peterson, Kenrick Ellis (ankle) and Zach Line (illness) did not participate. Linval Joseph (foot) and Everson Griffen (shoulder) were limited. Adam Thielen (shoulder/lower back) was a full participant.
For the Seahawks: WR Tyler Lockett (hip) and DE Michael Bennett (toe) did not participate. T Russell Okung (calf), G J.R. Sweezy (concussion), TE Luke Willson (concussion), CB Jeremy Lane (oblique) and DT Jordan Hill (toe) were limited. Lynch (abdomen) and S Kam Chancellor (pelvis) were listed as full participants.
Weather today vs. Sunday's forecast:The Vikings practiced outside Wednesday with a temperature of 34 degrees Fahrenheit when the session began. Sunday's forecast is projecting a high temperature of 0 degrees with a low of minus-9.