Seattle (10-6) at Minnesota (11-5)
When: Sunday, January 10th 2016
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Time: 1:05 ET | TV: NBC
If the Seattle Seahawks want to reach their third consecutive Super Bowl, they must do it on the road starting in Minneapolis against the Vikings. The Seahawks started the season 2-4, but held the lead in the fourth quarter in three of those loses. Since then, they won eight of their last ten games including a 38-7 mauling at Minnesota on December 6th. Russell Wilson, who led the NFL in passer rating, threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns in that game and has 24 TDs and just one interception in the last seven games. He is the first QB in history to amass at least 30 TD passes, 4,000 yards passing and 500 yards rushing in a season. He also found a hot receiver in the second half of the season in Doug Baldwin. The fourth-year pro from Stanford caught 11 touchdowns in Weeks 12-16 and had career-highs in receptions (78) and yards (1,069). The big news out of Seattle this week is the return of star running back Marshawn Lynch, who had abdominal surgery on November 25th. Lynch averaged 3.8 yards a carry in 7 games this season and can join Emmitt Smith and Terrell Davis as the only players with seven 100-yard rushing games in the postseason with a big effort Sunday. The Seattle defense ranks number one in the NFL against the run and was tops in points allowed (17.3). The Seahawks held three of their last five opponents to seven points or less and have won five straight road games.
Minnesota will need a big game from Adrian Peterson – something they abandoned in the first meeting with Seattle. Peterson ran for only 18 yards and 8 carries in that game and voiced his displeasure afterwards. In four career playoff games, Peterson has run for 367 yards and five touchdowns. Minnesota followed the Seattle loss in December with another one in Arizona the next week, but then gathered themselves and won the last three and the NFC North title. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was sacked four times in the Seattle game and threw for only 118 yards. The second-year pro finished the season strong throwing five touchdowns to only one interception over the last three weeks. Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs led the team in receptions and yards, but tailed off near the end catching one ball for 8 yards last week. He had four games of 95 or more yards this season, but all four came in his first 4 games. The defense, which has been strong all season, held their last three opponents to 17 points or less including a 20-13 win at Green Bay last week. They’re 5th in the league allowing 18.9 points a game, but just 17th against the run (109.2).
It’s supposed to be downright frigid on Sunday in Minnesota. Near zero degree temperatures with negative 25 wind chills. I can see this game being a lot like the first with Seattle’s defense dominating the Vikings offensive line. Wilson is on fire right now and he has the edge over Bridgewater easily.
Pick: Seahawks -5