I have had a hectic week and while I fully intended to produce a full “Preview” segment like normal, but I ran out of time. I still wanted to get something up in advance of this game, however, as it stands to be a turning point type of matchup for this 2012 Vikings team.
It could be a turn for the best, but it could also be a turn for the worst.
Here are five items I consider to be the most important this afternoon:
1. Time To Go To Bat
Seattle’s starting rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has, thus far in his young career, overcome the pre-Draft knock on him that he is too short. It is time for that to stop. Wilson has been an impressive rookie in an already impressive class of quarterbacks, but the Vikings must game plan to shut him down despite the absence of cornerback Chris Cook.
One way they can do that is to use their big defensive linemen to get into the throwing lanes and get their hands in the air. Brian Robison put on a clinic last week in terms of batting passes, and Jared Allen and Kevin Williams have both made highlight reels in the past by doing this, so we know this isn’t an original idea for the Vikings defense.
Wilson is short. He may be succeeding anyways, but his passes are more susceptible to being batted down at the line of scrimmage… that is just physics. The Vikings need to give their secondary some help by employing the long arms of Robison and company this afternoon.
2. Tackle Well, Live Longer
The Vikings cannot completely stop Seahawk’s running back Marshawn Lynch, but they can endeavor to contain him.
The “Beast” will not be contained, however, if the Vikings continue to tackle (or, perhaps, not tackle) the way they have been the last three weeks. They missed 17 tackles last week, which resulted in Doug Martin’s monster game on Thursday Night Football.
Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley, and Erin Henderson have their work cut out for them this week as they face the running back who is closest to Adrian Peterson for the NFL rushing lead.
3. Run, Run, Run… and then Run Some More
I’m going to skip the Ponder-doubting that has overwhelmed Vikings Nation in the past few weeks.
Instead, I want to remember a Kansas City team that a few years ago won a significant amount of football game by embracing their stellar running game to the fullest. Remember when the Chiefs ran Jamal Charles and Thomas Jones on what seemed like every down, including fourth, to move the chains in a safe and time-consuming manner? I want to see that type of dedication to the run game with the Vikings, who are very well built to do it.
The best way to win this game, and shut up that damned 12th man, is to shove Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart down their throats for seven minutes at a time.
4. Start Utilizing Rudolph… For Real
Second year tight end Kyle Rudolph is having a decent season, particularly in terms of touchdown catches. However, I think there is still plenty of untapped potential here.
The Seahawks boast a number of young, high-quality cornerbacks and that could spell trouble for mediocre performers like Jerome Simpson and Michael Jenkins.
Getting the ball to Percy Harvin is always a must, but Rudolph needs to start being utilized more in the every down passing game. He needs to be running seam routes and he needs to be a threat no matter where the Vikings are on the field.
Feed him the ball, Musgrave.
5. Special Teams Must Be Special Today
Most of you probably think I’m going to talk about Percy Harvin’s returns or Blair Walsh’s big leg, and that is certainly part of it.
I think both of these teams, however, have very dangerous threats on special teams and the biggest point of emphasis needs to be the Vikings ability to play mistake-free football on the coverage unit. Leon Washington has a habit of embarrassing opponents, and plllllease Football Gods… don’t let it be the Vikings.
I think another close one is in store for us here, and I worry about the outcome, but I still think this Vikings team will be 6-3 in a few hours. As long as common sense is utilized by the Vikings coaching staff, and the players execute like we know they can, they can come out of this game with another win.
My prediction: 22-17, Vikings