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NFL: Week 13 Preview: Seahawks at Vikings

By Derek Harper Sports Xchange Keys to the game The Seahawks' offensive explosion over the past two weeks will be tested on the road against the league's second-ranked scoring defense. The Vikings do allow 4.3 yards per carry and the Seahawks hav...

By Derek Harper

Sports Xchange

Keys to the game

The Seahawks’ offensive explosion over the past two weeks will be tested on the road against the league’s second-ranked scoring defense. The Vikings do allow 4.3 yards per carry and the Seahawks have received a big boost from rookie RB Thomas Rawls, who hits the hole quickly and finishes runs - even if they’re for modest yards. That’s critical for QB Russell Wilson, who showed what he can do with some protection even when pinned in the pocket - throwing for 345 yards and five touchdowns against Pittsburgh last week.

The Vikings’ blueprint of leaning on RB Adrian Peterson to power a ball-control offense and let QB Teddy Bridgewater pick up some scraps through play-action will be tested this week. The Seahawks rank fifth in defending the run, but the coverage in the secondary is a mess beyond CB Richard Sherman. Cary Williams has been benched, the other corners haven’t played much better and SS Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas continue to have massive issues covering tight ends. If Peterson finds the sledding tough with Chancellor jamming the line, can Bridgewater open up the passing game and show Minnesota can adapt game plans to exploit an opponent’s weakness?

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Matchup to watch

Seahawks CB DeShawn Shead vs. Vikings WR Mike Wallace

Wallace hasn’t caught a pass in two games and wasn’t targeted a single time last week despite playing 44 of 70 offensive snaps. Shead was a popular target last week starting in place of Williams, with the Steelers regularly testing him deep with the vertical patterns Wallace is known for.

Player spotlight

Seahawks TE Luke Willson

He isn’t as big or as dynamic as injured Jimmy Graham, but Willson does know the offense well and has proven he can work the seam effectively.

Fast facts

Wilson is 2-0 against Minnesota with five touchdowns and no interceptions. His 20 career games with multiple touchdown passes and no picks is the most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first four seasons. ... Bridgewater is 7-0 when he throws for fewer than 200 yards in a game.

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Friday injury report

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Out: DE Demarcus Dobbs (concussion), DT Jordan Hill (toe), RB Marshawn Lynch (abdomen), WR Paul Richardson (hamstring)

Questionable: CB Marcus Burley (ankle), RB Will Tukuafu (concussion)

Probable: DE Michael Bennett (not injury related), CB Jeremy Lane (knee), C Patrick Lewis (knee), S Earl Thomas (hip)

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Out: DT Linval Joseph (foot), S Andrew Sendejo (knee)

Questionable: LB Anthony Barr (hand, groin), S Harrison Smith (knee)

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Probable: S Robert Blanton (ankle), CB Trae Waynes (ankle)

Who will win and why

This is a big opportunity for the Vikings to back up an impressive victory at Atlanta with a statement home victory. Minnesota’s defensive front seven can control the field position, allowing the Vikings to chip away with RB Adrian Peterson until QB Teddy Bridgewater can exploit an unraveling secondary off play-action.

Our pick

Vikings 26-23

 

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