Tag Archives: Harrison Smith

Seahawks/Vikings Preview (NFC Wild-Card Playoff)

9 Jan
vikings wild card preview 2015

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: (6) Seattle Seahawks at (3) Minnesota Vikings

Site: TCF Bank Stadium (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Kickoff: 10:05am

On December 6th the Seahawks rolled into Minneapolis and delivered a monumental beat down to the Minnesota Vikings 38-7. One month later the Seahawks will look to do the same thing in order to keep their season alive. The Seahawks travel to TCF Bank Stadium once again on Sunday as they take on the NFC North champion Vikings in an NFC Wild-Card playoff game. The Seahawks enter as the number 6 seed and a win will punch their ticket to Charlotte for the NFC Divisional playoffs. The Vikings are the number 3 seed and a win will send them to Arizona to play the Cardinals next week. Of course the loser of this game sees their 2015 season come to an end. The theme in this game is “different.” There will be multiple things that will be different this week from the last time these two teams faced off 5 weeks ago. For the Vikings, several things will have to be different in order to advance to next weekend. Here are a small handful of differences I will have my attention on in this game.

Last time around Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson completed 78 percent of his passes for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Seahawks also added 101 yards and a touchdown on the ground by running back Thomas Rawls. Rawls is on injured reserve and this week the Seahawks will start someone who was not even on the roster back in week 13, running back Christine Michael. Michael will be thrust into the starting role after the unexpected breaking news Friday night that Marshawn Lynch, who practiced all week and seemed ready to go, ruled himself unable to play. Michael has an opportunity to completely change critic’s opinions of him as an NFL player with a strong performance in Minnesota. Establishing the run on first down will remain important but do not be surprised to see more passes called on first down than runs. If Michael can get going early and be able to put up at least 80 yards on the ground it will take pressure off of the passing game and the Seahawks offense will be able to control time of possession, putting Minnesota at a disadvantage.

In my preview of our regular season matchup against the Vikings I talked about how important it was for the Seahawks defense to corral Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson. This is the one and only constant I will be focused on this week. It is the same story as last time: shut him down, win the game. Peterson was held to his worse stat line of his season against the Seahawks, rushing 8 times for 18 yards. In the 4 games to end the season after playing Seattle Peterson averaged 21 carries for 76 yards and recorded 3 touchdowns. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright combined for 17 tackles against the Vikings in the regular season so look for Kris Richard to stuff the box to help defensive tackles Brandon Mebane, Ahtyba Rubin, and Jordan Hill out.

One of the biggest reasons this game will be different for the Minnesota Vikings is unlike in our last meeting, Minnesota’s defense is close to full strength. Multiple players who were inactive or hurt during our matchup five weeks ago will be on the field this Sunday. This includes safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Anthony Barr. I am putting my X-Factor spotlight on another one of those players who may be back on the field on Sunday. My X-Factor player to Watch for the Vikings this week is defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Joseph’s absence was a contributing factor in the Seahawks being able to accrue 173 total rushing yards on December 6th. He is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game and I believe he is extremely underrated, much like Brandon Mebane is for Seattle. Right before he got hurt he was putting up big numbers in the tackles category, averaging just over 6 tackles per game in his last 5 games. He has also recorded 7 tackles for loss this season. Against an average Seahawks offensive line Joseph could be poised for a huge game statistically. If the Seahawks run Christine Michael up the middle look for Joseph to make a big impact.

Something else that must be talked about is the weather conditions for Sunday’s game. In our last meeting in Minnesota the temperature was in the high 30’s; an abnormally warm temperature for that time of year. This week brings a completely different story as the Seahawks will be playing in the coldest game in franchise history. The temperature at kickoff is projected to be no higher than 3 degrees but I have seen reports from the national weather service over the past few days that claim the temperature at kickoff could be as low as -20 degrees plus wind chill. It will be painfully cold and the weather could absolutely play a factor in how the game plays out. I remember two seasons ago the San Francisco 49ers traveled to Green Bay to play the Packers in an NFC wild-card game. The 49ers were no doubt the better team but because the temperature was so low it allowed the Packers to play San Francisco tough almost to the point of them upsetting them. It will be harder to throw, harder to tackle, harder to kick, and harder to score. These circumstances could give the Vikings an advantage that is difficult to overlook.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear white jerseys and college navy pants this week. The Vikings will wear purple jerseys and white pants… Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the call for a rare NBC matinee broadcast this week… Walt Coleman is our referee in this game… I find it very interesting the NFL decided to have both NFC wild-card games on Sunday rather than one on Saturday and the other on Sunday. It makes sense going from week 17 into the postseason but one team playing this weekend will lose a day of preparation for next week because they will have to play Arizona the following Saturday… Many people approached me over the past week and asked me if I was going to Minneapolis for the game. I would love to be there even with the weather being what it is, but unfortunately I will not be there. Hopefully I get to make at least one more road trip before the end of our season… I am not a fan of the morning start in the playoffs. That’s the price we pay for going on the road I guess.

Prediction: It will not be a blowout and the weather will be a factor, but I still believe the Seahawks will punch their ticket to the Divisional round. Russell Wilson will throw touchdowns to Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. A late touchdown run by Adrian Peterson will keep things close but the Seahawks will be able to convert third down opportunity with under two minutes left to seal the win. The Seahawks will come home and get ready for an NFC Divisional playoff against the Carolina Panthers.

Seahawks 27, Vikings 17

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Vikings/Seahawks Preview

3 Nov

Image

Matchup: Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks return home on Sunday to start the second half of the season against the Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks enter this game at 4-4 and are looking to gain a half a game on the division leading San Francisco 49ers in the division standings. The Vikings are a surprising 5-3 and are looking to get back on track after losing last Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Seahawks lead the all-time series against the Vikings 6-5 but have lost two in a row to Minnesota. Their last matchup was a 35-9 Vikings blowout over the Seahawks at the Metrodome in November of 2009. Here now are my thoughts on this week’s game and the keys to a Seahawks victory.

It has been three weeks since the Seahawks have played at home. The defense was able to shut down the New England Patriots and escape with a victory. This week the Seahawks defense gets the Vikings offense including a quarterback who has never played in Seattle. I have labeled Christian Ponder as fresh meat this week because not only has he never played in Seattle, this is only his second season in the league and I do not believe he has faced a defense as talented in an environment like ours all season. The Seahawks pass rush is a big key on defense this week. Pressuring Ponder into mistakes will be huge this week. Although interceptions would be fantastic, I will be keeping my eyes on the decisions Ponder makes if the pressure is on. Most notably, I will be looking for how long he takes to throw, and if he will try to force throws or if he will throw the ball away. At home, I have full confidence in our defense to stop the Vikings on third downs. By putting Ponder in second and third down and long will be to our advantage. I have full confidence the defense has looked over film and made proper adjustments to be more effective on third down. This week, my player to watch on defense is linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner has been mentioned as an early candidate for defensive rookie of the year. Wagner is doing a great job calling the plays on defense. I predict that Wagner will record his second sack of the season on Sunday.

Last week in Detroit, Marshawn Lynch broke off a 77-yard touchdown run which was his longest run of the season thus far. The Minnesota Vikings do not have a very good run defense. I would not be surprised if Lynch has another 100+ yard rush game which includes at least one touchdown. Lynch has not scored a touchdown at home since week 2 and my offensive prediction this week is that Lynch will score this week. Getting the running game going will take time off the clock and put pressure on the Vikings to make a stop. Lynch is the biggest factor on offense this week and a strong performance from him will probably translate into a positive outcome for the Seahawks this week.

Russell Wilson is back home this week, where he is way more comfortable. After a strong performance on the road last week, I would expect to see momentum rolling over into this game. Just as a reminder, Russell has thrown 6 touchdowns and no interceptions in games at home this season. Russell has the potential to throw for the most single game yardage so far this season. If the running game is working effectively this may not be the case, but if Wilson has to throw often, I think he could put up some big numbers and move the chains in huge chunks. I do however think the Seahawks offensive line will have trouble at times blocking and protecting Wilson. The Seahawks have been able to stay healthy along the offensive line and the continuity is building in the middle between James Carpenter, Max Unger, and Paul McQuistan. This group is still a bit raw and is subject to giving up some sacks and quarterback pressures this week.

The Minnesota Vikings are 5-3 and a large part has to do with their under-the-radar defense. One player who is definitely not flying under-the-radar however is all-pro defensive end Jared Allen who has recorded 7 of Minnesota’s 23 sacks this season. That total is tied for 3rd in the league. Allen is the biggest name on Minnesota’s defense but I have two other players to look for. Cornerback Antoine Winfield has 60 tackles so far this season and has picked off two passes. With the uncertainty at wide receiver this week for the Seahawks, I expect Winfield to line up against Sidney Rice for the majority of the game. Also, rookie safety Harrison Smith is another player to keep an eye on for Minnesota. Smith has been compared to Earl Thomas because of his incredible range and ball hawking ability. If Russell Wilson floats some passes deep, Smith will most likely be in the neighborhood to try to make a play.

On offense you always have to be worried about leading rusher Adrian Peterson, but if the Seahawks defense plays the way I expect them to, Christian Ponder will have to throw the ball a lot. Percy Harvin has 667 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns, and one touchdown on a kickoff return. Harvin is one of the best duel-threats in the league and his quickness may really be a problem in this game. Harvin will go up against Brandon Browner this week and if we give up big chunks of yards to Harvin the Seahawks will definitely be at a disadvantage. Harvin will be the reason if special teams play a significant role in this game. If Harvin has a big game whether it be receiving or returning kicks, the Seahawks may be in trouble.

One final note about the Seahawks wide receiver depth, it looks like Doug Baldwin will be ready to play this week after a miraculous recovery to his ankle. If Baldwin can go, the Seahawks will have 5 healthy wide receivers. Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Charly Martin, and Jermaine Kearse are the other 4. I do not expect Kearse to see much playing time and if Baldwin can go, expect Martin’s plays to decrease as well.

Random Thoughts: What a treat. The halftime show this week is a joint performance by the Newport and Mercer Island high school marching bands. I was a part of the Newport HS band from 2004-2008 and I have heard the entire band and staff have turned over since I graduated. Nevertheless it will be kind of funny and cool to watch where I was only 5 years ago… The pregame giveaway is a blue Seahawks poncho. Kind of useless since I’ll be in the upper deck where the elements are a non-factor… The weather is supposed to be in the low 60’s on Sunday. Looks like I’ll be sporting the visor for one more home game… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call for FOX for the second straight week. After last week’s play-by-play/commentary performance, I am very thankful I’ll actually be at the game this week… Looks like I’ll be tailgating in a parking lot in Pioneer Square again before this game. I’m excited… The Seahawks will most likely wear blue jerseys and blue pants again this week. I love surprises and I’m waiting to be surprised. I kind of want the Seahawks to switch up their uniform combinations at home… I have an assignment due at 5pm Sunday night. I’ll put good money on me getting it done before Sunday rolls around.

Prediction: I think it is crucial for the Seahawks to win these next two home games before the bye. The fact that we are at home and Christian Ponder has never played at CenturyLink Field before gives us a huge advantage. I think we will able to contain Adrian Peterson for the most part and Russell Wilson will have his best performance of the season.

Seahawks 24, Vikings 13

Look for my review of the Vikings game sometime Monday afternoon or evening. Enjoy the game everybody. Go Hawks!