Here’s our weekly First Look at Seattle’s upcoming opponent:
Seahawks opponent: Minnesota
Game time: 1:25 p.m. Pacific Time, Sunday, CenturyLink Field
Coach: Leslie Frasier, 17-29 in fourth season with Vikings.
Last game: Beat Washington 34-27.
The series: Seattle leads 7-5 including a 30-20 win over the Vikings in Seattle on Nov. 4, 2012. Seattle won despite Adrian Peterson rushing for 182 yards.
The early line: Seahawks by 13.5.
Key players: The foundation of Minnesota’s offense, if not the entire team, is the running of Adrian Peterson (in an AP photo above). He’s not on the same pace as a year ago when he rushed for 2,097 yards. But his 786 yards ranks fourth in the NFL and he remains a threat to have a monster game at any time. Minnesota has had a quarterback carousel all season, but for the moment is back to Christian Ponder, who threw two TDs in the win over the Redskins Thursday before leaving with a dislocation to his non-throwing shoulder. Ponder told reporters Monday he expects to play against the Seahawks. The Vikings might be without WR Jerome Simpson, who leads the team with 491 receiving yards, if he is disciplined after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving Saturday — he also told reporters Monday he plans to play against the Seahawks. Defensive end Jared Allen isn’t on the same pace as 2011 when he had 22 sacks. But his five leads the team and he remains one of the best at his position.
Minnesota’s keys to success: The Vikings, a playoff team a year ago at 10-6, have ranked as one of the bigger disappointments in the NFL — a theme of late of Seahawk opponents, ala Tampa Bay and Atlanta — standing at 2-7 entering the game against Seattle. And their numbers are indicative of a struggling team as they are 28th in total offense at 315.7 per game and 30th in total defense at 399.3 per game. Ponder has yet to emerge as a consistent force as a quarterback, which mitigates the effectiveness of Peterson in the running game. Defensively, the Vikings are particularly bad against the pass, allowing 21 touchdown passes so far, tied for the most in the NFL, while also allowing 23 or more points in every game. The Vikings are better against the run, allowing just 4.0 yards per attempt — 14th in the NFL and better than the 4.2 of the Seahawks. Minnesota’s only hope is to grind it out with Peterson, get efficient and safe passing from Ponder, and get better play than usual from its secondary. But the 13.5-point spread indicates that it’ll be a tough task Sunday.
BY THE NUMBERS
3 — Quarterbacks who have started games for the Vikings this season — Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman.
8-10 — The touchdown-to-interception ratio of Minnesota’s quarterbacks this season.
21-8 — The touchdown-to-interception ratio of the quarterbacks who have played against Minnesota this season.