Wilson-to-Baldwin connection key in SEA-MIN matchup

In a rematch of Week 13, the Seahawks travel to Minnesota for the NFC Wild Card contest. Bryson Vesnaver breaks down the key matchups.

| 9 months ago
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Wilson-to-Baldwin connection key in SEA-MIN matchup


There were a few people that predicted a Minnesota Vikings’ NFC North championship at the start of the year, but it was far from a popular opinion. But here we are—the regular season is over and the Vikings are division champs. Now, just five weeks after getting stomped on at home by the Seattle Seahawks, they get a chance for some revenge in their first home playoff game since Brett Favre was under center.

The Seahawks had everyone wondering what was wrong with the Legion of Boom after getting off to a 2-4 start this season. However, they proceeded to finish the season 8-2. They’ve been arguably the hottest team in the NFL since a Week 10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, going 6-1 with an average win of 32-14. That included the aforementioned 38-7 beatdown of the very team they are facing on Sunday.

Will the results be the same? Or will the Vikings figure out a way to defeat the streaking Seahawks? Let’s take a look at the good and bad for each team this season, using PFF’s grades and data as our lens, as well as key individual matchups to watch.

Seattle Seahawks

The good 

Easy enough: Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin. Since Week 11, the two have combined for 40 receptions on 50 targets for 595 yards, 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Nobody has been as accurate in that span as Wilson (83.5 percent). With an overall season grade of 87.4, Wilson ranked fourth among quarterbacks this season, while Baldwin’s grade of 90.9 puts him as the eighth-best receiver.

Edge defense. Specifically, defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. With overall season grades of 89.3 (Bennett) and 87.2 (Avril), the two sit as the sixth and 11th best edge defender in football this season. They’ve combined for 22 sacks, 32 hits, and 99 pressures against opposing quarterbacks. They also both finished the year ranked in the top five in run stop percentage, at 8.0 and 7.6, respectively.

The bad

It’s pretty incredible what this Seattle offense has been doing, considering the men they have blocking up front. As a unit, the offensive line finished the season with a 74.3 pass blocking efficiency, the fifth-worst in the NFL. Three of their linemen (Justin Britt, Garry Gilliam and J.R. Sweezy) finished with an overall grades below 50.2 (on a scale of 1–100). Russell Okung was their only lineman to finish with of a mediocre grade of 78.2, and he’s currently dealing with an injury.

It’s hard to find a weakness on the Seahawks’ defense, but the biggest one has to be their corners not named Richard Sherman. DeShawn Shead has struggled this year, finishing the season with an overall grade of 43.6 (100th out of 119 corners). Jeremy Lane hasn’t been anything to write home about, either, since he returned, grading out at 67.7, just below average.

Key player

QB Russell Wilson (87.4): Wilson finished the year as the second-most accurate QB, at 78.4 percent, and threw the third-most accurate deep balls, at 49.2 percent. His 15 touchdowns on deep balls were the most among all QBs this season.

Minnesota Vikings

The good

The run game has been stellar for the Vikings this season, as Adrian Peterson once again came away with the rushing yards crown. Peterson finished this season with an 82.4 rushing grade, the seventh-best mark among RBs. He was helped by a strong run blocking offensive line as well, led by C Joe Berger and his second-best 89.5 overall season grade. Peterson averaged 2.2 yards before contact per rush, the seventh-most among all RBs with at least 100 carries.

The Vikings boast a very strong pass rush, and have been getting pressure on opposing QBs all season long. They are led by edge rusher Everson Griffen, who has 11 sacks, 16 hits and 44 hurries, but have gotten contributions up and down the defense. Overall, the Vikings have recorded 48 sacks, 65 hits and 227 hurries this season.

The bad

Pass blocking has been the Vikings’ biggest issue on offense, as they are one of the poorest in the league at protecting the QB. Their combined pass blocking efficiency of just 71.9 was the second-worst in the league this season. One specific player who had a tough season was G Brandon Fusco, who’s 53 total pressures allowed and PBE of 92.2 were both second-worst among all guards. But he was hardly alone, as only G Michael Harris finished the year with a slightly above average pass blocking grade.

While the Vikings’ defensive line is great at rushing the passer, they are far less so at stopping the run. If DT Linval Joseph can play, that’s a huge boost, as he was the third-best run stopping interior defender in football this season. But, if he can’t take the field, then the Vikings will have some work to do, as starting defensive linemen Griffen, Brian Robison, and Tom Johnson all finished below average in run defense this year.

Key player

FS Harrison Smith (92.7): Smith was our highest-graded safety this season, despite missing three games. He was targeted, on average, every 48.6 snaps, and allowed a mere 0.20 yards per coverage snap, fourth-best in the league among safeties.

Matchups to watch

WR Doug Baldwin (90.9) vs. CB Captain Munnerlyn (83.8): Munnerlyn was thrown at a ton in the slot (league-leading 73 targets), but held up well, averaging 9.1 coverage snaps per reception and just 1.10 yards per cover snap. Baldwin in the slot, though, averaged 5.9 routes run per reception, and averaged a ridiculous 2.47 yards per route run to go along with 12 touchdowns.

RT T.J. Clemmings (38.4) vs. DE Michael Bennett (89.3): This one is a little different than the other matchup. Bennett was, by all accounts, one of the best edge defenders this entire season. He had a league-leading 83 total pressures among 4-3 defensive ends, plus the third-best run stop percentage. Clemmings’ pass blocking efficiency of 92.4 was the fourth-lowest among all tackles, and he graded even worst against the run. The point here, is, that he’ll need lots of help to deal with Bennett.

Paths to victory

Seattle can win if: Their dominant edge rushers can get pressure without extra help, and force Teddy Bridgewater into making critical mistakes and bad throws—and if the Russell Wilson-to-Doug Baldwin connection continues as it has the last month and a bit.

Minnesota can win if: They can get Peterson going early and force the Seahawks’ defense to play the run first to set up some big play action plays over the top, and if Harrison Smith and the rest of the Vikings secondary can lock down Seahawks’ receivers and give their strong defensive line time to get to Wilson.

| Analyst

Bryson has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, and has also been a contributor to 120 Sports.

  • Thinkaboutit

    Teddy B. must play a stellar game and he D needs to make russell feel pain in that sub zero atmosphere. Im thinking the vikes actually win this, they play much like the rams who had success against the hawks.

    • osoviejo

      “Im thinking the vikes actually win this, they play much like the rams who had success against the hawks.”

      You mean other than getting trucked by four touchdowns a few weeks ago?

      • Thinkaboutit

        too bad that was 4 weeks ago,pretty sure the rams, an inferior team, teabagged you guys just 2 weeks ago. If the rams can beat you then anyone can.

        • Ben Peterson

          So what’s your opinion of the Cardinals? The Rams beat them too, and the Seahawks just destroyed the Cardinals in AZ (yeah, they sat their starters in the second half, but it was 30-6 at that point), and the Cardinals teabagged you guys three weeks ago. So, by that logic, anyone can beat you as well.

          • RSR1DRIVER

            Vikings fan perspective, I think it’s Cardinal, Panthers and then Seattle. Carolina has lost Charles Tillman for the season, and I truly believe that game where they gave up 28 straight points to the Giants shook them up (yeh, I know, they were in shutdown mode and had to gear up again). Nonsense, no one gives up 28 straight points when you’re supposed to be a SuperBowl caliber Defense.

          • Craig W

            Panthers are so much strong than they get credit for. Panthers, Seahawks and Cardinals is how I would rank it. Then the next group of Vikes, Skins & Pack. Anything can happen in the playoffs, especially when there are game changers like the Vikes D, Peterson & Rodgers on the lower tier teams. I think the Skins are the only team that has no real shot at going to the SB.

          • eYeDEF

            Panthers played 4 teams with winning records. FOUR.

          • willyeye

            Panthers; easiest schedule in the NFL…totally unproven.

        • osoviejo

          The Seahawks held the Rams to 205 total yards. They had 50% more yards, more first downs, ran more plays, gained more yards per play, and won time of possession.

          In order to “teabag” the Seahawks despite losing in virtually every stat except scoreboard, the Rams had to win every bounce, which they did.

          Look it’s football, so anything -could- happen Sunday, including an improbable Vikings win. But singling out that aberrant game from the last seven the Seahawks have played (and dominated–including five straight road wins), as the roadmap for a Vikings victory is just ignorant fanboy homerism at its worst.

        • RSR1DRIVER

          The Seahawks seem to lose to elite qb’s and the games they win against elite qb’s are close, no blowouts. Steelers put up almost 500 yards offense in Seattle. You can’t tell me that’s an elite defense. I think Seattle wins, but they will not beat Cam or Carson.

          • eYeDEF

            The games they lose against elite QBs are always close too. No blowouts. So what’s your point? They’ve never lost by more than 10 points during the Russell Wilson era, and they only lost by 10 one time against GB, and that was early in the season before the defense got things figured out.

          • willyeye

            Every team in the NFL has some bad weeks, except maybe the Panthers who had the easiest schedule in the NFL (NFCE, AFCS, NFCS x2). That was a tough game for the Hawks D and Ben was killing it for the most part. He did pick on Shead who was making his first start after the Hawks cut Cary Williams. Ben was also smart about it…he didn’t throw a lot to Bryant and Brown…he mostly threw to Wheaton and DeAngelo. But the Hawks still finished #2 in total D, #2 in pass D, #1 in run D, and they finished #1 in points allowed for the 4th consecutive season. Two division winners, the Vikes and the Cards, had only 125 total yards and 205 total yards respectively in recent games.

        • enai D

          Yeah I like how everyone is talking about Seattle as if they’re unbeatable- that’s just silly. Look at their schedule/record. They’re obviously on a roll and hitting on all cylinders right now, but they’re still eminently beatable.

          • willyeye

            Th Hawks played 7 games against playoff teams. No other team had anywhere close to that tough of a schedule.

          • enai D

            Ok, and? Doesn’t change the fact that they’re still plenty beatable, as proved by the fact that they were swept by St Louis, lost to GB, and just BARELY beat the (miserable) Cowboys and Lions. I’m not saying they’re not a legit contender, or that they’re not on a roll right now, just that they’re far from invincible.

      • Mickey

        The Vikings were without Linval Joseph (#3 rushing DT by PFF), and in the 1st drive lost both Anthony Barr (#2 graded LB by PFF) and Harrison Smith (#1 graded S by PFF).

        No explanation for 0 points from the offense, but that makes a major difference in the game, especially when you can’t game plan beforehand for their absences.

        • enai D

          Seattle being able to score 38 points against what was basically the Vikings JV defense is pretty close to meaningless. With Smith, Barr and Joseph healthy the defense is not a concern for this team. The offense is what we should be worried about, and unfortunately its going to come down to whether our OL can block or not (which for the Vikings is somewhat of a dicey proposition).

        • willyeye

          Explanation for ZERO points by offense? The Vikings offense is ranked #29. The Hawks D is ranked #2, #2 against the pass, and #1 against the run. 4th consecutive year with fewest points allowed.

          • RSR1DRIVER

            willyeye,

            Is that why Big Ben smoked Seattle three weeks ago for nearly 500 yards and 31 points?

            *. The Hawks D is ranked #2, #2 against the pass, and #1 against the run*

          • eYeDEF

            Did you really just try to compare Big Ben to Teddy Bridgewater?

          • RSR1DRIVER

            No, don’t even go there. You know the point was if the Defense is so great, how did they give up a game like that?Answer is they get smoked by elite quarterbacks.
            Carson Palmer 363 yards and 3 TDs in the first meeting that meant something
            They might beat Minnesota, but their not going any further.

          • eYeDEF

            First game back from his grueling SB injury for Jeremy Lane, he was shaking the rust off. First game Shead was starting at the right corner spot. This was due to Cary Williams being cut from the team because he was ineffectual. Both have played far better in subsequent games. That’s how.

    • Dranell

      Rams are dirty, have Seattle’s number, and have a game wrecker in Aaron Donald (the Vikings, nor anyone but the Texans, have a dlineman as good as he is). I don’t see the comparison.

      • Thinkaboutit

        Lol so because of one player a team isnt similar? You might want to give up on football if you cant see the similarity in styles.

        • sal2dice

          I keep hearing Vikings fans compare their defense to the Rams, but I don’t see the similarity… I see the Vikings strengths as being 1) athletic linebackers + safeties, 2) pass rushers on the edge, 3) keep teams guessing by showing and jumping in and out of blitzes, esp. in A-gaps. I see the Rams as a different type of defense – 1) dominating d-line that plays run and pass equally well (and yes Donald is a very unique and distinctive feature of the line), 2) good shell coverages, 3) more exotic, high-risk/high-reward, blitzes

        • Darnell

          I just don’t see it. The Vikings have significantly better DBs and lbers with not nearly as disruptive of a dline. And Zimmer is too classy to have his guys play like Fisher’s guys. The Vikings are actually a good team, the Rams are a mediocre-below average team built specifically to beat teams in their division but not do much else.

          You haven’t provided one reason for why you think the two teams are similar.

        • eYeDEF

          Your logic in saying the Vikings are “similar” to the Rams is just highly lacking. The Vikings don’t have anyone close to as dominant as Aaron Donald on their DL. Sorry kid, but Everson is no Aaron Donald. No one in the playoffs except maybe the Broncos if they have everyone healthy have the personnel to follow the Rams blueprint against Seattle.

          • e40

            look up Linval Joseph, just as dominant as donald.

          • eYeDEF

            As a run stopper, sure. As a pass rusher? Not even close. No one except JJ Watt is in Donald’s league as a pass rusher who can bring it from anywhere along the line.

      • Craig W

        We don’t have an Aaron Donald quality player on the D-Line, but the Vikes have superior LBs to make up for it. The Vikes have a better QB than the Rams, but are setup very similar to the Rams. If it is 20-17 game the Vikes win. If they need to get to 28-30 points to win the Seahawks win. I think if Linval Joseph is playing and is effective the Vikes have a 50-50 shot at winning. If it was in perfect weather I think the Seahawks dominate. It is going to be tough to throw the ball in the cold windy conditions on Sunday. Wind won’t effect Teddy as much because he thrives on the short passes.

        • willyeye

          The Seahawks offense is ranked #4 against the Vikings #13 D. The Vikes offense is ranked #29 against the #2 D.

          • Craig W

            I don’t give a crap about yards. Top 5 Scoring D for the Vikes. I think the Hawks will have trouble throwing the deep ball with the winds. That makes it a more even matchup considering the winds basically don’t impact the Vikings running or short passing game. Running the ball with Linval Joseph in the middle will be much harder than it was in the earlier matchup.

    • willyeye

      Unless the Vikes hire Gregg “Bountygate” Williams, I see no similarities between the Rams D and the Vikes D. The Rams players fly around the field like human spears, trying to kill any player who gets in their way. Dirtiest team in the NFL. They injured 3 QB’s this year. I think the Hawk players were just trying to get out alive. The Hawks did out-yard the Rams in the last game 312-205. But there were SEVEN CONCUSSIONS in that game!

  • A tech god

    So let me get this straight.
    Almost every Real PRO analyst has put seattle as the top secondary. But you put
    it as seattles weakness. Then you contradict yourself by saying seattle is
    arguably the hottest team since week 10(49ers) . Jeremy Lane returned week 11.

    You also wrote

    “Jeremy Lane hasn’t been anything to write home about, either,
    since he returned, grading out at 67.7, just below average.”

    But PFF’s last article wrote that lane was a top performer.

    Deion Sanders just called him out on NFL primetime and said the
    legion of boom is going down in history as one of the best ever assembled EVER.

    I see you guys are trying to cover up your flawed rating system

    • eYeDEF

      It took a few games for Lane to shake off his rust. He graded poorly in those early games back, particularly against Pittsburgh when Ben threw for almost 500 yards on everyone not named Sherman. He’s gradually improved his play as he’s gotten back into it and was a top performer against the Cards, he had his best game of the season. I’m not really seeing the contradiction. It could be a weakness, even though it probably won’t be Bridgewater who exploits it.

      • A tech god

        It was shead and burley that were getting beat. Lane got an interception that game. Wheaton did have a touchdown on him but it was Earl Thomas that left his zone on an excellent deep throw by Ben off his back foot rolling right. Even then Lane was about 2 yards behind Wheaton and caught up to him to get his hand on the ball. Even Pete Caroll called out earl thomas on that play

        • eYeDEF

          Ah well maybe they did mis-grade Lane in the Pitt game. I agree that they’ve underestimated his play given his consistent improvement since his return. But the fact that Shead and Burley were getting beat could make the secondary a potential weakness no? It just requires a QB to exploit the slot coverage back, which I’m sure won’t be Bridgewater but could certainly be a weakness in other potential match ups. Especially if they were to meet either the Pats or Steelers again.

          • A tech god

            Pittsburg receiving corp is amazing though.

          • willyeye

            I think Burley actually has good grade from PFF…79.2. Only a few points below Munnerlyn.

  • A tech god

    Can someone explain to me how Jeremy Lane had a PFF of 48.6 six days ago and now is 67.7? How does he jump 19.1 points in 6 days????

    • Galen Hall

      Lane has been injured pretty much the whole year, so his overall grade is based on just a few games this year

  • WL- Minneapolis

    Interesting how Seattle and Minnesota have the same strengths and weaknesses generally. Both have stout defenses (Seattle #1 and Minnesota #5 in the league in points allowed), strong running games (#3 & #4), poor pass blocking as mentioned above, and below average or worse passing games.

    Generally I think Seattle is slightly better across the board, except special teams where the Vikings have a slim advantage, but the Vikings are a little better with turnover ratio and have a lot fewer penalties (#1 in league vs. #26 for Seattle).

    The Vikings were without their 4 best players defensively in the first match-up, 2 of the losses coming unexpectedly at the beginning of the game- screwing up their game plan, which is why they gave up 38 points rather than the 18 they averaged for the season. Getting behind early screwed up their offensive game plan too.

    So, having all their best defensive players back for this game will be an important difference from week 13. The other big difference will be the weather. With a forecast of -20 windchill, that will impact the game in several ways. Cold tends to neutralize speed and quickness, which is a key aspect of the Seattle defense, makes it more difficult to use your hands effectively, and also makes the ball hard and slippery, which makes gripping, catching, and kicking/punting the ball more difficult with generally poorer results across the board.

    I expect a much closer game than week 13, and a game the Vikings can win with a little help from mother nature.

    • eYeDEF

      Looks like you got it all wrong. Seattle doesn’t have a below average or worse passing game. In fact, it doesn’t sound like you even read the article or follow the NFL if you think Seattle’s fireworks in the passing game the last half of the season has been anything you could remotely call “below average or worse”. Don’t really see how the Minnesota reinforcements are going to help defend against it.

      Seattle will also have its All Pro running back in the starting lineup again.

      • RSR1DRIVER

        I’m a Vikings fan, but Seattle’s pass offense was explosive, more so when Lynch and Graham went out. Thir two defensive weaknesses are they are near the bottom of the league in covering tight ends (Olsen exploded on them if the they meet Carolina again) and anyone not called Richard Sherman in the secondary. It would be more of a concern if they were facing Big Ben as he got nearly 500 yards offense and that was during Seattle hot run.
        Vikings will have their time and I’d like to win, but it’s not this year. With the window on Seattle and Arizona closing, they are more ready to move on.

      • WL- Minneapolis

        Seattle ranks #20 in pass yards per game. That’s below average. Look it up. The Vikings pass offense is worse- next to last, but then again St. Louis is dead last in pass offense, and swept Seattle this year.

        To give you an idea about the Vikings losses in week 13, imagine the drop off in the Seattle defense if Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, KJ Wright, and Michael Bennett were out, with Thomas and Wright game planned and expected to play. Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr and Linval Joseph are all first-team all-pros on the PFF team just released today, and they were all out week 13 against Seattle.

        Also, while Lynch is a top back, Seattle has done just as well running the ball without him, so I don’t see him making much difference in rush yards. His average this year is only 3.8 yards per rush, which is pedestrian.

        • eYeDEF

          Seattle ranks second in weighted offensive passing DVOA, look it up. That’s a far better snapshot of how their passing game is working at the moment. Vikings don’t have the personnel that the Rams do.

          • enai D

            Agreed, (when healthy) our personnel on defense is superior to that of the Rams.

          • eYeDEF

            Rams have the best DL in the league. Especially when healthy. I don’t see how you can even make that claim along the DL with the likes of Donald and Quinn.

          • enai D

            And the Vikings DL isn’t especially far behind, but they’re alot better in the back 7- so there’s not alot of room for (rational) dispute that overall, the Vikings have more defensive talent than the Rams.

          • eYeDEF

            Only because of the subarctic temperatures I’d agree. In normal temperatures and with Lynch back I don’t see why not. It’s not like Wilson hasn’t lit up better defenses.

          • enai D

            Lol yeah, I’m sure the weather will have a far more significant impact than the return of 3 of the best defensive players in the league at their positions. Honestly can’t tell if you’re trolling or not at this point.

          • eYeDEF

            I don’t know what the impact of zero degree weather will be on the offense. I just know what I’ve read about how it can have an effect. Love how you just discount the impact of having Lynch back in the lineup and you think I’m trolling. As if having a legit running threat doesn’t open up play action and the read option plays in the playbook that keeps any defense on its heels, regardless of their personnel. I think you’re trolling.

          • enai D

            Whatever the impact of the weather will be, its assuredly less than the impact of getting all your key defensive players back in the lineup (3 of whom are on this All-Pro list). Amusing, though, that you would accuse ME of dismissing the return of key players- talk about a pot meet kettle situation.

          • eYeDEF

            Because you did. You keep emphasizing the return of defensive players without any mention of Seahawks returning a key offensive weapon, as if the offense would be exactly the same as the Vikings faced the last time. I just have to assume you don’t have a deeper understanding of the game of how a running threat can neutralize a defense.

          • enai D

            Lynch’s absence obviously did not have a comparable impact, which shouldn’t be even remotely surprising since he’s one player (and not 4), and he plays RB instead of crucial defensive positions. And its not like the Seattle running game suffered in his absence (i.e. the way the Vikings defense suffered in the absence of their key players)- the Seahawks averaged more rushing yards/game in Lynch’s absence (149/game) than in games he played (131/game). They had 173 rushing yards in the first game vs. MN, without Lynch.

            But yes, tell me more about how MN’s defensive success in this game will be more affected by the weather than by the return of their core players at each level of the defense- I’m always game for a good laugh.

          • enai D

            (if the Seahawks got Lynch back, and MN only got Linval Joseph back, that would STILL be a net gain for the Vikings- Joseph alone makes more of an impact on the Vikings defense than Lynch has this year on the Seattle offense.. and since the last game we not only have Joseph back, but our other two best players as well.. this is simply apples and oranges, no way around it- but nice try)

          • eYeDEF

            Not even close.

          • enai D

            Agreed, Linval Joseph is significantly more impactful than Marshawn Lynch. But that’s no knock against Lynch, Joseph was the best NT in the league this year.

          • eYeDEF

            You’re just ridiculously ignorant about football. A running back who touches the ball on half the offensive snaps has far more ability to affect the game than a tackle that has far fewer chances to make a play on the ball.

          • enai D

            Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, little guy. Your naive claim aside, probably the more relevant factor is the drop-off from the player to his backup. Seattle’s other RBs have been effective in Lynch’s absence. MN doesn’t even have another nose-tackle on the roster (Tom Johnson, though a solid backup, is primarily a pass-rusher).

          • eYeDEF

            Again, it’s clear to me you didn’t understand what I just told you. I suggest you take your time and read it more slowly. It really cuts to the point by minimizing the contributions of your fantasy nose tackle. He’s limited to a far smaller number of snaps where he can affect the game. Again, this simple concept is clearly over your head so I don’t expect you’ll understand.

          • eYeDEF

            Wrong. Lynch’s absence did have a considerable impact when matched against superior defenses capable of stuffing lesser runners, like the Rams. Without having to worry about the run, it freed up the pass rush to pursue Wilson without hesitation. It’s hilarious how you’re oblivious to the impact of how having a great runner on a team can entirely change the game plan of how a defense plays an offense. Probably because you’re so used to watching the Vikings play without a competent quarterback that you’re not aware of the offensive possibilities AP opens up just by being on the field. You might have to reach all the way back to 2009 to remember anything like that.

          • enai D

            Lol, oops.. I guess you spent last year living under a rock, eh? And you’re right, Lynch had a huge impact in allowing the team to averaging 20 LESS yards per game running the ball when he played vs when he didn’t. And he was crucial in Russell Wilson’s late season renaissance (oh wait…oops again). Turns out, Seattle has been better running AND passing the ball without Lynch. So your apple still isn’t an orange.

            But yes, tell the joke again about Marshawn Lynch’s impact being comparable to Anthony Barr+Harrison Smith+Linval Joseph; that was a good one.

          • eYeDEF

            See, this is a prime example of your lack of football knowledge and your poor understanding of the game. What you fail to understand that correlation is not causation. Yours is a very simplistic analysis because due to your ignorance you oversimplify and try to draw conclusions based on incomplete information. They were averaging more when Rawls turned out to be such a prodigy, but I guess you’re not aware he went down with injury and is done for the season. But the success of Wilson with Rawls in the lineup demonstrates his success passing the ball in the 2nd half of the season had nothing to do with Lynch’s absence. Your attempt to draw clunky associations of one being related to the other is just purely ignorant of what actually happens on the field. You’re clueless if you think a backup runner will draw the attention of a defense like Lynch would.

          • enai D

            Lol wow… Did you hear that sound? That was the point passing directly above your head. Probably was intentional though, you’ve literally spent all day ducking and dodging a completely uncontroversial point. OBVIOUSLY Seattle didn’t get better on offense because Lynch was gone- but the numbers refute this silly idea that his impact is comparable to that of Barr, Smith and Joseph COMBINED (as if this were a serious suggestion in the first place)

          • eYeDEF

            The way the game is prepared and played is NOT ALL ABOUT NUMBERS. It’s about matchups and about a defense scheming to contain on offense. So let’s break down your proposition of why you find 3 returning defensive players so overwhelmingly outweighs a returning offensive player. Joseph, great run stuffer, better than average pass rusher, questionable health. Barr, great pass rusher and solid all around linebacker with decent coverage skills. Smith, jack of all trades excellent free safety.

            To be honest, I’m just not seeing where this overwhelming advantage you think exists is coming from. The blueprint the Rams have is that they have a front four that can generate pass rush on their own that can get pressure on Wilson and contain or wrap him up before he can pass or scramble for positive yardage. I don’t see Joseph as being anywhere near Donald in being able to do that. Griffen didn’t do much the first game. Barr’s pass rush prowess is neutralized by the simple fact that for him to rush Zimmer’s gotta bring the blitz and Wilson has been carving up blitzes since the adjustments he made midseason. Plus having Lynch gives Wilson a great blocker in the base defense and the threat to run by either Lynch or Wilson out of play action or the read option freezes defenders and buys him extra time, regardless of how good the defenders are. He didn’t have that luxury against the Rams. Lynch neutralizes any implied pass rush advantage you think Joseph might provide. So Barr gives some extra help defending tight ends and wide receivers on mid crossing routes and Harrison Smith helps in coverage but Wilson’s great at spreading the ball around and Smith can only provide help to one side to limit YAC. Even in Zimmer’s 4-2-5 nickel the front four have to generate some pressure on their own to prevent Wilson from picking his targets or just taking off on an improvised run. Sure Joseph and Barr help against the conventional run, but the run wasn’t the problem last time around. Sorry, I just don’t see where you think the overwhelming matchup advantage is that isn’t neutralized by Lynch, who Zimmer has to now game plan for AS WELL as Wilson. Wilson usually takes up a designated spy on the defense in case he takes off running. That means less bodies to contain Lynch. It’s overly simplistic to think in terms of 3 returning defenders > 1 returning offender. Only if those matchups provide a distinct advantage, but I’m not seeing it. I’m sure it will help, but I’m not seeing an easy mismatch that the Vikes can seek to exploit.

          • enai D

            Ok, I’m not reading your 1000 word hand-wavey sermon on how Marshawn Lynch’s return is more impactful than the return of 3 All-Pro quality defenders- its not even a serious proposition to begin with. If you want a response, condense this wall of text into your top 3 points.

          • eYeDEF

            LOLOLOL! You kept begging me to address the question because you thought that I didn’t have an answer. But when I give you a full and detailed explanation, you concede that it’s too difficult for you to comprehend. This is why I tried to keep it simple for you because you don’t actually understand the game. I knew it would fly over your head.

          • enai D

            Hmm, I see you’re having reading comprehension issues- amusing, though not surprising (not to mention another pot meet kettle situation). Let’s try reading again, more slowly this time-

            “Ok, I’m not reading your 1000 word hand-wavey sermon”

            Now, what about that sentence says to you that I DID read your wall of text? Silly kid. Come back when you’ve actually watched some football and are slightly less of a babbling moron.

          • eYeDEF

            Of course you didn’t read it, because it was too difficult for you to understand. You have reading comprehension problems because you lack the necessary vocabulary to process what you read. Except you really should improve before demanding explanations about football that you’re not going to understand.

          • eYeDEF

            And like I said, the cold had more to do with slowing down the Seahawks offense than any of the Vikings returning from injury. You kept thinking that notion was funny and preposterous. Hilarious how you’re so unfamiliar with the effect of climate given the team you root for. This is what happens when you talk out of your depth kid.

          • enai D

            LOL.. Is it opposite day? Or you just that delusional? MN defense owned Seattle’s offense, and you guys escaped with a win solely because Blair Walsh choked on a kick that NFL kickers made 99% of the time (189/191) this year. Good job, I guess- I suppose that winning because the other team screwed up is better than losing, even if it is alot worse than winning because of anything your team did.

          • eYeDEF

            Like I said, the weather was responsible for neither offenses having a prayer. That’s why those deep passes kept floating short and taking longer to get there. The proof is right in front of your face, and I cite the litany of cold games in history from the freezer bowl to the ice bowl that just backs up my point of how cold weather affects the passing game. The rest of the NFL literati agrees with me, the vikings didn’t own anyone … the weather did. Hapless homers like you disagree, but that’s your problem for ignoring the facts on the ground.

          • enai D

            Heh, this level of delusion would be amusing enough on its own, but coupled with a complete lack of self-awareness or irony its absolute comic gold.

          • eYeDEF

            So who won again?

          • enai D

            Are you really going to pat your team on the back because they won thanks to the other team missing one of the easiest game-winning FG’s in playoff history? Lol mmmkay. Yeah, the Seahawks did a really good job there, standing around as Blair Walsh saved their season and became the team MVP.

          • eYeDEF

            The moment was too big for him. That much was clear. That kick was nowhere near going in. You honestly can’t expect to advance in the postseason with a kicker that chokes in the clutch. That’s what the postseason is for, to separate the wheat from the chaff. That requires all players showing up to play as a team better than the opponent. Vikings most definitely did not deserve to advance with such ineptitude on display at a key moment. Nor could they score a touchdown, they just weren’t the better team. It’s that simple. Sometimes, the truth really hurts. The outcome was the truth.

          • enai D

            In other words, you now admit that your team didn’t have anything to do with the missed FG that gave your team the win, and that Blair Walsh just choked? Gotcha. Glad to see a kernel of common sense underneath all that delusion and cluelessness.

          • eYeDEF

            Just because I schooled you on the nature of cold weather on games doesn’t mean you have to act like such a sore loser by deliberately ignoring the obvious. Of course my team had everything to do with forcing your boys to have to even try to kick a field goal … by scoring 10 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to take the lead. My team earned the victory by putting up more points and putting themselves in position to win. Your team did not. Nor did they have any intention of ‘giving’ my team anything, just ask them yourself. Your narrative is really quite absurd.

            It’s really that simple.

          • enai D

            You may not know a lick about football but you sure have a knack for comedy (even if its pretty clearly unintentional). “I schooled you” “my team earn the victory”.. LOL

          • eYeDEF

            Wait, but the difficulty you had digesting football vocabulary after begging me for an explanation of offsetting matchups makes you particularly unqualified to render such a judgement, remember? Well, at least not credibly. You’re making it a little too obvious that you’re just sour grapes.

          • enai D

            Did you include “football vocabulary” in that 1000 word sermon? Maybe I should have read it after all, if only for more amusement. Would be sort of like listening to a 3 year old try to preach about quantum mechanics, I imagine.

            But again, we have the quintessential pot calling the kettle black scenario here, since the guy who hasn’t offered a single credible proposition (“the weather held them to 9 points, not the defense”, “marshawn lynch is worth 3 defensive all-pro caliber players”, “Seattle caused Blair Walsh to miss”) clearly isn’t in any position to make remarks about anyone elses credibility.

          • eYeDEF

            Uh, but again your opinion is not credible because you refused to read the post where I offered plenty of credible propositions, cited historical data, provided scheme explanations, and generally debunked everything you said. You can’t render an opinion on something you refuse to read because you know that by reading it you’ll have to concede that you are in fact wrong. So watching you attempt to do so now is really quite hilarious. It makes me wonder if you even know the meaning of the phrase ‘pot calling the kettle black’ that you love to use so often since it clearly doesn’t apply to me. The only thing I’ve called you is a sore loser. I certainly can’t be a sore loser when I haven’t lost.

        • enai D

          @WL- To be fair, they’re 28th in attempts (3rd in rushing attempts), but they’re actually FIFTH in net yards per attempt. So being #20 in passing yards is a function of low attempts- they’re actually one of the most efficient passing teams in terms of bang for your buck. But MN’s defense has succeeded against even better passing teams than Seattle, and with all our key players healthy defense is not a concern. The only concern for the Vikings is whether the offense can score enough to win- the defense will be just fine.

        • Andre

          Thomas, Chancellor, Wright and Bennett… you’re comparing Super Bowl winning pro bowlers to oranges here.

        • James Winslow

          Yeah but seattle can score, the yards don’t matter that much.

      • enai D

        You don’t see how getting your 4 most important players on defense back from injury would help a team defend effectively? Lol, ok. That’s not even a serious statement.

        • eYeDEF

          My bad, it should have read ‘score against us’. I recognize the weather will be a wild card as far as the offense is concerned.

          • enai D

            That doesn’t make any sense- why would anyone think that getting your best DEFENSIVE players healthy was going to help you on offense? Besides, your statement was pretty clear- you’re talking about Seattle’s passing game, and said “Don’t really see how the Minnesota reinforcements are going to help defend against it.”- as in, defend against their passing game. But OBVIOUSLY getting guys like Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith back will help tremendously at defending the opponents passing game.

          • eYeDEF

            It wouldn’t. My point was that I don’t see how Minnesota getting their best defensive players back is going to help them on offense.

          • enai D

            Mmmkay, but that’s not what you said, and that isn’t even worth saying even if it was. This is like saying that getting your punter healthy isn’t going to help your pass rush- of course it isn’t, nobody would ever think/suggest otherwise.

          • eYeDEF

            I know that’s not what I said, which is why I corrected myself. It was worth saying because the objective is to win.

  • Mnstorm99

    Some of you all are funny. Blah, blah, blah is ranked this and blah, blah, blah is ranked that.
    Seriously.As a Viking fan, I can see that the Seahawks are a better team and it is not that hard. But, obviously Smith, Joseph and Barr would have made a huge difference in the last meeting between these teams. Also, the mistake of keeping AP to 8 carries changes the Vikings offense to something they are not, so that will not happen again.
    I wouldn’t put my money on the Vikings, but the Seahawks main advantage comes through the air and -20 windchills can equalize that, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings can escape this game with an ugly win. The Vikings are a well coached team, and there is something about “any given Sunday”.

    • ColBatGuano

      I don’t see how the Vikings gain that much advantage from the weather. They haven’t played any particularly cold weather games this year. Also, the Seahawks have had a better overall rushing attack than the Vikings this year. Peterson may be the best RB on the field, but he’s just one guy.

      • Mnstorm99

        To clarify. I said -20 windchills “equalize” things, it does not give any team an “advantage”.

  • Mnstorm99

    Who was the Vikings 4th best player who missed the last game?
    Sendejo? That would be a joke to consider him the fourth best player on the Vikings defense. I would say he shouldn’t even be starting.

  • Hawkscanner

    If you’re judging Seattle’s passing attack based solely upon numbers of yards, you’re looking at the wrong stats. Sure, the easy quick and dirty stats show that Seattle is 20th in terms of passing yards. That’s totally due to Pete Carroll’s overall philosophy of ball control offense. Unlike most of the league, he believes in running the football. BUT, it would be a HUGE mistake (and quite inaccurate) to discount Seattle’s passing attack. Quite the contrary — it is lethal.

    Russell Wilson finished #1 in the NFL in Passer Rating (109.8) … #3 in Completion Percentage (68.1%) … and tied for 6th most passing TD’s (34) with only 8 INT’s on the season (he threw only 1 interception over his last 7 games). Down the stretch, he was playing out of his mind. It’s not all that far fetched to say that over the course of the last 7-8 games of the season, he just might have been the NFL’s most dangerous QB.

    But beyond that, people looking at the Seahawks from the outside need to understand that they are a big strike offense. The Seahawks had only 489 pass attempts (28th in the league) … but it’s what they DO with them that’s impressive. The Hawks had 60 pass completions of 20 yards or more (6th Most in the league) … so when they do pass, they are fairly explosive.

    Seattle’s receivers are highly underrated. Doug Baldwin ended up tied for the #1 Spot in the NFL in receiving TD’s. He was also the #1 DVOA receiver in the NFL according to Football Outsiders. Tyler Lockett was the NFL’s #3 DVOA receiver … and Jermaine Kearse the NFL’s #5 DVOA receiver.

    Those who are looking at this offense from afar and judging it purely by the numbers would be wise to dial up some game tape (say from this past Sunday). See what your eyeballs tell you on whether or not this pass offense is pedestrian or not.

  • SpringsGal

    This will be a much closer game than the previous blowout. Vikes have some defensive starters returning, homefield, sub-cold temps and also the motivation to prove that they are better than the previous outing. Seahawks have the pedigree and a QB who has proven to be clutch. I would pick Seattle winning a close game…just because I cannot trust Teddy in a big game. The QB will have to make a few plays in this game. Who is more likely to make those throws? Teddy or Russell? Russell Wilson will win the game in the 4th quarter. But the winning margin will be 7 points or less (not a blowout as the previous game).