Tale Of The Tape: Minnesota Vikings At Seattle Seahawks
- QuarterbackChristian Ponder looked like a new man as he completed 17-of-21 passes in the Week 10 victory over the Washington Redskins, but his night ended badly when he dislocated his left (non-throwing) shoulder and he had to be replaced by Matt Cassel. Ponder reported he was starting to “feel better” early in the week, but it’s still unlikely he will play against the Seahawks.The Seahawks had little trouble taking apart the Falcons in Atlanta, and coupled with the 49ers’ home loss to the Panthers, they now have a two-game lead in the NFC West. Russell Wilson has completed 63.4 percent of his passes and has a 17-6 interception ratio. As long as his line continues to play well, Wilson should be able to take advantage of the Vikings’ soft defense.
- OffenseThe Vikings would like Adrian Peterson to take over the game and dominate with his power running, but that’s unlikely against Seattle’s defense. Still, the Vikings need Peterson to have a credible game to take the pressure off Cassel or Ponder. Greg Jennings will face a challenge from Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, and that means Jerome Simpson must assert himself in this game.The Seahawks always have confidence that they can run the ball with Marshawn Lynch. Once he gets his power running game underway at home, it’s often quite debilitating towards opposing defenses. Golden Tate can make the tough catch in traffic, while fellow receiver Doug Baldwin knows how to get open and make himself a target for Wilson. The Seahawks are hoping former Viking Percy Harvin can return.
- DefenseThe Vikings have played a lot of unimpressive games from a defensive perspective, but that unit rose up to hold down the Redskins in the second half of Minnesota’s 27-24 victory. The Vikings rank 30th on defense, but middle linebacker Erin Henderson gives his all every game and he has a team-leading 87 tackles. Veteran defensive end Jared Allen leads the team with 5.0 sacks.The Seahawks have been one of the most dominant defensive teams in the league, ranking third overall and second against the pass. The return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner means that they are not going to miss many tackles. Sherman is perhaps the best cover corner in the league, while free safety Earl Thomas has a team-high 72 tackles and four interceptions.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings have done a decent job in kick and punt coverage. However, they often gain a big edge in this area because of the explosive return ability of rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Placekicker Blair Walsh has made 13-of-15 FG attempts.The Seahawks excel at special teams coverage. They are at their best when covering punt returns, as opponents are averaging a miniscule 1.4 yards per return. Jermaine Kearse has speed and is a decent return man while Steven Hauschka has made 22-of-23 FG attempts.
The Seahawks often put inferior opponents away at home, but they will have the occasional clinker. The lowly Tampa Bay Buc extended them to overtime in Week Nine. They will try to avoid that by putting the Vikings away early. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor