The Minnesota Vikings finally did it Sunday. They knocked off the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North Division title. The reward: A home game against the two-time NFC champions, the Seattle Seahawks.
Yes, the same Seahawks that came to TCF Bank Stadium in Week 13 and dominated in a 38-7 victory. Sunday’s winner will head to Arizona to face the Cardinals in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. But before we get there, the Vikings have a huge task if they want this season to be about more than winning a division title.
Here are four keys for the Vikings to beat the Seahawks.
Run The Football
It’s no secret that the Vikings area better team when Adrian Peterson is successful running the football. In the loss to Seattle in Week 13, he had just eight carries for 18 yards. The Vikings fell behind early and couldn’t stick to their plan, and Peterson was vocal about it after the loss. He said they were out-played and out-coached.
He won another rushing title this season and the Vikings will need him to have a big game against Seattle to both keep the offense moving and to keep the Seahawks offense on the sideline.
Contain Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson torched the Vikings in the first meeting this season, passing for 274 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for another. He did it against a banged up Vikings defense that was without Linval Joseph as well as Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith after the second series. Having those three healthy is huge for the Vikings.
We can expect that Barr and Brian Robison will be keeping an eye on Wilson, much like they did Aaron Rodgers in Sunday night’s victory. Getting pressure on Wilson and containing the run game, whether it be Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael and Bryce Brown, will be a tough test for the Vikings.
Make The First Big Play
So many times in the playoffs games come down to making the first big play and riding that momentum. It would be greatly beneficial for the Vikings to throw the first metaphoric punch Sunday in front of their home fans. Whether it’s with a turnover, a long touchdown or a big defensive play, the Vikings need to make a big play early, keep the fans engaged in game and avoid playing on their heels. That’s easier said than done against the Seahawks and especially Wilson, who is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL right now.
Vikings Need To Have ‘Touchdown Teddy’
Teddy Bridgewater has had an up and down season with the Vikings, his first as the full-time starting quarterback. He had a rough game against the Seahawks last time, throwing for just 118 yards with one interception. Bridgewater played much better in a close loss at Arizona and was solid in a 49-17 win over the Giants. He played pretty average in Sunday’s win over the Packers. So which Bridgewater will we get in the playoffs against one of the better defenses in the NFL? Who knows, but the Vikings need “Touchdown Teddy” if they have aspirations of playing deeper into January.
The Vikings took the first step by beating a rival on the road to win a division title. They earned a home playoff game in the process and now have to take advantage of it.