Here is our weekly day-before-the-game five things to watch:
1, HARVIN’S DEBUT: Seattle fans have been waiting eagerly since March to see Percy Harvin on the field, and it appears they’ll finally get their chance — and it comes against Harvin’s former team, which traded him to Seattle for three picks, including a 2013 first-rounder. The Seahawks figure to ease Harvin into things, considering he has had only one full week of practice since hip surgery on Aug. 1. Specifically, he may not return kicks. But the Seahawks will be excited to finally kick the tires a bit on their big off-season purchase and get him ready for the December stretch run and into the playoffs.
2, PUTTING AN APB ON A.P.: Adrian Peterson’s numbers are down a bit from 2012, when he rushed for an astonishing 2,097 yards, eight off Eric Dickerson’s NFL single-season record, in large part due to an underwhelming offensive line. Still, he remains one of the most-feared individual threats in the NFL, capable of carrying a team to victory by himself at any time. He tried to do that a year ago in Seattle when he rushed for 182 yards on 17 carries. The Seahawks, though, overcame those yards to beat the Vikings 30-20. Seattle’s run defense was much-improved a week ago, allowing just 64 against the Falcons after having been chewed up for a combined 405 in closer-than-expected wins over St. Louis and Tampa Bay. Hardly needs stating that Peterson will provide a much stiffer test than the Falcons.
3, UN-HAPPY RETURNS: Aside from Peterson, Minnesota’s biggest strength is its return units. Kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson leads the NFL with 35.2 yards per kick return while punt returner Marcus Sherels leads the league at 16.3 yards per return. Seattle, meanwhile, is the best punt cover team in the NFL, having allowed just 15 punt return yards all season on 11 attempts, with a long of 10. And the Seahawks’ kickoff coverage team has been solid throughout, as well, not allowing a return longer than 40. Don’t be surprised to see the Vikings get aggressive with any return opportunity — Patterson had a 109-yard kickoff return earlier this season to set a new NFL record.
4, OL INTACT?: It appears as if Russell Okung, Breno Giacomini and Max Unger will all return this week. If so, then the Seahawks could have their projected starting OL on the field for the first time since the first half of the 49ers game. Seattle coaches have said they will continue to rotate for a while as they wouldn’t expect the injured players to immediately return to playing every snap. And that will lead to the intrigue of seeing how the Seahawks mix and match the linemen once everyone is back — does James Carpenter stay at LG or does Paul McQuistan now take that over on a permanent basis? How much will Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey play?
5, HOME COOKING: Seattle has won 12 straight home games, tying a team record set in 2004-06. A win today obviously breaks that record and further cements Seattle’s rep for having maybe the best homefield advantage in the NFL. And a win also gets Seattle that much closer to having homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.