By Dave Thomas
It was a little over a month ago that the Seattle Seahawks swooped into Minnesota and did a number on the Vikings, rolling to a 38-7 win over the NFC North champions.
With the NFC first-round wild card playoff matchups set, the two teams square off again this Sunday in the upper midwest, with Minnesota (11-5) feeling better about itself after wrapping up the NFC North title with a 20-13 win over rival Green Bay this past Sunday evening. Meantime, Seattle (10-6) and quarterback Russell Wilson went down to the desert and rolled by the rival and NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals 36-6.
When Seattle and Minnesota meet up this coming Sunday afternoon, the Seahawks will look to continue their recent dominance over their opponents, while the Vikings and Adrian Peterson hope for a much better outcome from the previous encounter.
Minnesota, which snapped Green Bay's recent dominance over the NFC North, will have to play much better this time around at home if it wants to advance past the wild card round, especially against a Seattle team looking for a third consecutive trip to the Super Bowl.
Can Seattle Bottle Up Peterson Once Again?
Certainly not a surprise to anyone who follows the Vikings, much of Minnesota's success begins and ends with Peterson. The veteran running back out of Oklahoma rushed for a league-leading 1,485 yards this season on 327 carries, adding 11 touchdowns along the way.
In the meeting back on Dec. 6, the Seahawks held Peterson to a mere 18 yards on eight carries, bolting out to a 21-0 halftime lead. Seattle also more than managed Minnesota QB Teddy Bridgewater, holding the Louisville product to 118 yards passing and one interception.
If Seattle is to duplicate its efforts from the first meeting, stopping Peterson will of course be the front and center goal. With that said, Minnesota does have some other weapons at its disposal.
Along with Peterson, Bridgewater is no slouch with running the ball (192 yards rushing and three touchdowns), while Jerick McKinnon has gained 271 yards on the ground.
Through the air, Bridgewater's top targets include the likes of Stefon Diggs (720 yards receiving, four TD's) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (495 yards receiving, five touchdowns).
Vikings Need To Shut Down Wilson
For the Vikings to make it to the next round of the playoffs and send Seattle home early, its defense will have to play much better than it did the first time around.
Wilson, who has been one of the hottest things going at the quarterback position over the last month-plus, comes into the game with 3,827 yards passing and 31 touchdowns. If starting running back Marshawn Lynch (recovering from abdominal surgery) is able to go, the Vikings will also have to worry about Beast Mode, though Lynch's durability after missing a month or so of action could come into question.
Minnesota's defense turns to Eric Kendricks (92 total tackles, four sacks), Andrew Sendejo (58 solo stops), and Everson Griffen (10.5 sacks).
For the all-time series, Seattle holds a 9-5 advantage over Minnesota.
The other NFC Wild Card matchup pits Green Bay at Washington on Sunday. The winners of the two wild card games will move on (depending on seeding) to meet top-seed Carolina and second-seeded Arizona the following weekend.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on aExaminer.com.
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