The struggling 5-3 Vikings are on the road Sunday, heading to the great Northwest as they take on Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, who are 4-4.
The Vikings are coming off their worst loss of 2012, a bad 36-17 setback at home to the Bucs a week ago Thursday.
The Hawks have dropped two in a row, losing last week at Ford Field to the Lions. Seattle is looking for their best start at home since 2005.
The matchup shows off two top rushers, with Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson (775 yards) having a slight lead on Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch (757). Both are coming off a second straight 100-yard game but had season lows in carries – 12 for Lynch and 15 for Peterson – and their teams both lost.
Minnesota plays five of its final eight games on the road, with two apiece against Chicago and Green Bay as well a matchup at AFC-best Houston.
“This set up perfectly for us to put an exclamation point on these first eight and have some days before Seattle and try to eke out a tough one on the road,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “Now, it definitely changes your mentality.”
The Seahawks (4-4), meanwhile, return home following road losses to San Francisco and Detroit. They’re 1-4 on the road with 11 turnovers, compared to two at home.
“We didn’t play well enough on the road in the first half, is really what it comes down to,” coach Pete Carroll told the Seahawks’ official website Monday, a day after a 28-24 loss to the Lions.
“We didn’t finish the games we were close in.”
The Seahawks, though, are 3-0 at home for the second time in three years, with the last two wins versus Green Bay and New England coming by a total of three points. They haven’t opened 4-0 since 2005 and haven’t won four straight home games at any point in a season since 2007.
Wilson has been far better at CenturyLink Field (six TDs, no interceptions) than on the road (four TDs, eight INTs).
The Seahawks have one of the best run defenses in the league, allowing 84.9 yards per game, but could have their hands full with Peterson. The four-time All-Pro has run for 276 yards with two TDs over the past two weeks, and he’s averaging 5.1 per carry to rank second among players with at least 80 attempts.
“He’s special. You make your block, and you know he’s going to do something with it,” said Seattle receiver and former Viking Sidney Rice. “And if you don’t, he’s still going to do something with it.”
Rice caught two TD passes for Minnesota when these teams last met, and Peterson ran for 82 yards in that 35-9 Vikings home win Nov. 22, 2009.
It appears Rice, leading Seattle with 28 receptions, could get plenty of targets as Wilson deals with a depleted receiving corps. Ben Obomanu (wrist) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Braylon Edwards (swollen knee) might miss a second straight game, Golden Tate tweaked an ankle last Sunday and Doug Baldwin (high ankle sprain) is a “longshot” to play, according to Carroll.
Whoever lines up at wide receiver will face a Vikings secondary without corner Chris Cook, who suffered a broken right arm against Tampa Bay. Rookie Josh Robinson is expected to take Cook’s place in basic coverage, while A.J. Jefferson could slide in for Cook in Minnesota’s nickel package.
Seattle has been so good at home, it’s hard to pick against them, more so with how much Christian Ponder has struggled in the Vikings offense.
Look for Wilson and Lynch to make enough plays on offense, and for the Hawks run D to shut down AP enough to get another win at home and get to 5-4.
Seattle 27 Minnesota 17