The Seahawks have Cary Williams inactive for today’s game at Minnesota for the second consecutive weekend. That’s after he started the first 10 games at right cornerback. It’s DeShawn Shead’s job now -- and Williams is making $3.5 million guaranteed this season to now stand on the sidelines in sweats.
A refreshingly collegial atmosphere here on the University of Minnesota’s campus (stadium capacity 50,000), a departure from the usual packaged, grandiose vibe of an NFL Sunday. The Vikings move into giant U.S. Bank Stadium downtown next season. Walked by it last night; it’s on the site of the old Metrodome and is shaped like the bow of a Viking ship. The Super Bowl will be played there in February 2018.
Here is my game advance story focusing on Bobby Wagner being Seattle’s key to stopping Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson -- and thus being the key to this game.
Join colleague Dave Boling and me from the press box here in Minneapolis, and Kenny Via back in Tacoma for The News Tribune’s live game chat beginning at 9:15 a.m.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (6-5) at MINNESOTA VIKINGS (8-3)
Sunday, 10 a.m., TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
TV: Channel 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
Line: Pick ‘em.
The series: Seattle leads the series 8-5, dating to the first meeting in the Seahawks’ inaugural season of 1976 at old Metropolitan Stadium in suburban Bloomington, Minnesota. The Seahawks haven’t played in Minnesota since Nov. 22, 2009, a 35-9 loss in which Brett Favre threw four touchdown passes for the Vikings to Matt Hasselbeck’s one interception. Seattle has won the last two meetings, both at home, in 2012 and ’13.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Gap discipline "All Day": Adrian Peterson’s dad nicknamed him that as a kid, because he could run and run all day. That’s what No. 28 in purple will be doing at Seattle. Defenders often talk about "gap discipline," staying in their assigned gaps and not freelancing elsewhere to try to make plays. LB Bobby Wagner said patience and discipline in doing just that is the key to slowing Peterson, which Seattle did the last time they met in 2013. If the Seahawks do their jobs and only their own jobs, they may control Peterson and thus this game. "We can’t go rogue," coordinator Kris Richard said. "Just trust."
An on-time "Train": The Seahawks’ own, new lead running back has a much less well-known nickname. His coach at Flint Northern High School in Michigan still calls Thomas Rawls "The Train." The Vikings’ 20th ranked run defense has had problems stopping physical rushers this season. That’s exactly what Seahawks coaches love about their replacement for injured Marshawn Lynch. Expect early and frequent departures of "The Train" from the backfield in Minneapolis.
The return of the read option?:.Minnesota’s starting nose tackle, strong-side linebacker and free safety are banged up. Even if they play, Seattle is likely to test them by running right at them. All that inside running could lead to something we’ve seen far less of this season: Russell Wilson on read-option keeps around the outside, especially if the Vikings have to commit more to Rawls’ runs inside. It may be time for Wilson and play-caller Darrell Bevell to unveil the weapon that’s been hidden for most of 2015.
The pick: Seahawks 20-16. The game Seattle’s defense feels better about itself. The Seahawks slow Peterson, force Teddy Bridgewater into a game the QB and the Vikings would rather not play, and an improved offensive line allows Wilson to make just enough plays for the down-to-the-wire win.
54 --- Bobby Wagner, LB (6-0, 241, fourth season): AP is coming at him "All Day." If he’s in his All-Pro form, Seahawks will win.
92 --- Brandon Mebane, NT, (6-1, 311, ninth season): If the Vikings run as much as expected, he and Ahtyba Rubin must consume blockers and running lanes to force Peterson to Wagner.
34 —Thomas Rawls, RB (5-9, 215, rookie season): Vikings have been soft against hard, tough runners. Nobody on the Seahawks runs harder, tougher.
28 — Adrian Peterson, RB (6-1, 220, ninth season): Sensing a theme yet? Vikings will win or lose depending on how he fares vs SEA’s run D
82 — Kyle Rudolph, TE (6-6, 265, fifth season): 3-time Pro Bowler. Leads Vikings with 4 TD catches, 2nd on team with 36 catches, 4 behind WR Stefon Diggs
52 — Chad Greenway, LB (6-2, 242, 10th season): Has led MIN in tackles in each of the last 6 seasons. Weakside LB is the engine of the defense.