It's prediction time once again, ladies and gentlemen. Our friends from The Crowd's Line have brought us our prediction widget for this weekend's contest between the reigning NFC Champions, the Seattle Seahawks, and your Minnesota Vikings. Here it is, in all its glory.
This game, like most of the Vikings games down the stretch, is another must-win situation. With the Green Bay Packers being gifted yet another wholly undeserved victory this past Thursday, a loss on Sunday would move the Vikings back into second place in the NFC North. We certainly don't want that. . .not with a Thursday night road trip to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals on the horizon later this week.
As they've done in numerous games over the past couple of months, the Vikings will go into this one without a major component of their defense, that being nose tackle Linval Joseph. Joseph has been ruled out of this weekend's game with an ankle injury, and Sharrif Floyd will be playing the nose in his place. This is bad news for the Vikings, because despite the absence of Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks' rushing game has kept on chugging right along behind rookie Thomas Rawls. Rawls has gone over 100 yards three times this season, including a 209-yard performance against the San Francisco 49ers a couple of weeks ago. In the pass game, Russell Wilson is the kind of quarterback that the Vikings have traditionally had trouble with, though that should be mitigated this week with the return of Harrison Smith to the Minnesota defense and Anthony Barr wreaking havoc wherever he goes. Minnesota should also be helped by the absence of tight end Jimmy Graham. . .even though Graham wasn't having his best season in his first year in Seattle, he's still a dangerous weapon, but he suffered a knee injury last week that will sideline him for an extended period of time.
When Minnesota has the ball, the focus will again center on Adrian Peterson. The Seahawks sport the #5 rush defense in the NFL in terms of yards allowed. . .then again, the Atlanta Falcons were #1 against the run before Peterson got a hold of them. They're #10 now. Peterson has been on a serious roll for the past couple of months, and the hope is that he's going to be able to continue that on Sunday. Teddy Bridgewater is probably going to have to step up a bit more than he has in recent weeks, and even though Stefon Diggs will likely see a lot of Richard Sherman on Sunday afternoon, there should be some openings out there. Bridgewater should be able to make good use of tight end Kyle Rudolph in this one, as the Seahawks have had issues defending the tight end all year.
Neither of these teams are that prolific at passing the football, and they both have very good defenses. Given all that, I think this one is going to be quite the slugfest, and it might come down to whoever has the football last. I don't think these two teams are going to light up the scoreboard, but I do feel that the Vikings are going to make a statement in this one and find a way to do just enough to win.
Vikings 17, Seahawks 16, allowing Minnesota to keep their one-game lead in the NFC North.
That's my prediction, folks. . .who do you have in Sunday's contest?