Vikings vs. Seahawks: Breaking Down Minnesota's Game Plan

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Vikings vs. Seahawks: Breaking Down Minnesota's Game Plan
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
About the only chance the Minnesota Vikings have of upsetting the Seattle Seahawks is for Adrian Peterson to have a record-setting game.

It's Week 11 in the NFL, and there are plenty of intriguing matchups that will impact the playoff pecking order—the Minnesota Vikings game against the Seattle Seahawks is not one of them.

The Vikings, fresh of their one-game winning streak, will face the Seahawks, who lead the NFC West with a 9-1 record and a 2.5-game lead over the San Francisco 49ers. On paper, this matchup is not even close—according to Walter Football, the Seahawks are the top team in the NFL, and "they won't relinquish it for the rest of the season." That does not bode well for the 30th-ranked Vikings. 

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

In his press conference today posted on Vikings.com, head coach Leslie Frazier continues to sound like a former football player who may have taken one too many shots to the head. He opened his press conference stating the following:

...as excited about this game as any game we have played this year.  

He also indicated that the Vikings could use this game to build on.  

 Now we have a chance to build some momentum off the win we had on Thursday night.

Perhaps he is referring to building on next season. Most fans are more interested in seeing the Vikings lose and improve their draft status, instead of winning meaningless games this year. As St. Paul Pioneer Press sports columnist Tom Powers indicated last Sunday, following the Vikings' win over the Washington Redskins, the Vikings can't even lose right.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

According to some betting lines, the Seahawks are 13-point favorites, so the odds of another meaningless victory are pretty slim. 

Those who drink the purple Kool-Aid might try to look at the record of the Seahawks' opponents this season to justify some hope. Sure they are 9-1 this season, but the combined record for the 10 teams Seattle has played is only 37-54, a .406 winning percentage.

Of course, a closer looks shows they have beaten some pretty good teams like the Carolina Panthers (6-3) and 49ers (6-3). Their only loss this season was at the Indianapolis (6-3).

Using that same flawed logic, the Vikings have faced teams with a combined record of 40-42, a .476 winning percentage. Their two wins have come against the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) and Redskins (3-6), who have a combined .333 winning percentage.   

 

When the Vikings have the ball

This is a matchup of the Vikings' weaknesses against the Seahawks' strengths. Seattle has the second-ranked passing defense, allowing only 178 yards per game.

Perhaps that's not a big deal since the Vikings average only 28.4 yards more than that per game.

Data from StatMilk.com

There has not been a clear indication who will start at quarterback for the Vikings. According to ESPN, Christian Ponder returned to practice on Wednesday and could possibly make the start on Sunday.

With Ponder trying to recover from a separated shoulder suffered against Washington and facing a tough Seattle defense, it might be the right time to give Josh Freeman another chance to see what he can do.

If Frazier wanted to further prove that Freeman is not the answer, and protect Ponder at the same time, then starting Freeman against Seattle would accomplish both.  

The Vikings would do well to focus on the run, and let Adrian Peterson carry the ball 30 or more times in the game. Last season, he had 182 yards and two touchdowns on only 17 carries—that's an average of 10.7 yards per carry.

If Peterson can even come close to that performance, with a few more attempts he could be in line to break the NFL single-game rushing record of 296 yards. Peterson set the record in 2007 against the San Diego Chargers. Of course, even a 300-yard game by Peterson might not be enough with the Vikings defense having to stop the Seahawks. 

 

When the Seahawks have the ball

Fortunately for the Vikings defense, the Seahawks are almost as good at running the ball as passing it. That's a good thing since the Vikings are terrible against the pass.

Data from StatMilk.com

Last week, the Vikings faced the Redskins' third-ranked rushing offense. Even in victory, the defense allowed 191 rushing yards to Washington, which averages 151.2 rushing yards per game.  

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

They will need a very similar performance from their defense when they face Seattle's top-ranked rushing offense that averages 153.4 yards per contest. 

Just like Washington, Seattle has one of the top running backs in the NFL and a quarterback who is second on the team in rushing. 

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Marshawn Lynch has averaged 135 yards per game the last two weeks.

Marshawn Lynch is second in the NFL with 871 rushing yards and quarterback Russell Wilson is second for Seattle with 395 rushing yards.  

As for the passing game, the first thing to do is to keep Kevin Williams at nose tackle. It worked out pretty well against Washington. He finished with 2.5 sacks on Robert Griffin III in the game—his total for the entire season.

The Vikings should be able to get some pressure on Wilson, who has been sacked 28 times in 10 games this season.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Even if the Vikings can get their running game going, and limit Seattle's, it just may not be enough.

Rob Christy-USA TODAY Sports

It won't hurt for the Vikings to pray for some divine intervention on Sunday. 

 

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