After defeating a very skilled and multi-dimensional Pittsburgh team last week, the Seahawks will be traveling to Minnesota to take on the Adrian Peterson-led Vikings in a 10AM PT matchup. It's a big game too -- per Brian Burke -- "no team's playoff chances see a bigger swing between a win a loss this week than the Seahawks (42%)". Seattle really needs to win this game.
Let's dive right in.
We have to hand it to him - Adrian Peterson is having one hell of a year. In a year filled with season-ending injuries and missed curfews among high-caliber running backs, Adrian Peterson has stood as one of the lone poles of consistency in the position group - and it's partly why the Vikings currently lead the division. AP has 8 rushing touchdowns on the year - and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Along with that, he's added nearly 200 yards receiving.
In 2012, when All Day won MVP - he had run for 1,236 yards through this point in the season. Fast forward a couple years and AP currently sits at 1,164 yards on the season - slightly below his MVP trend. In other words, Adrian Peterson is quietly dominating the NFL. In Seattle's matchup with the Minnesota offense, AP will be the central focus -- as their offense depends on him. If Seattle can limit All Day, they likely win. If they can't, it could be a blowout in Minnesota's favor.
The Seattle offense without Jimmy Graham
Graham's role with the Seahawks this year has largely been a point of controversy among fans. Some believe he wasn't being used enough, some questioned his blocking assignments, and some were discouraged by his occasional drops. Regardless, Seattle can't argue about it anymore, as Graham suffered a season ending injury in his knee against the Steelers.
Now we have to see the Seattle offense without Jimmy Graham. In my opinion - one of the strongest contributions he brought to the offense was his ability to draw double teams - allowing other receivers like Tyler Lockett, Jermaine Kearse, and Doug Baldwin to get open. Now, opposing defenses don't have to double-team anyone.
However, in some twisted way, this might work out okay. Don't get me wrong. I feel horrible for Jimmy Graham and wish he hadn't experienced that injury. But, there's been the thought floating around, first broached by Mike Sando but it's something that many have discussed since the injury: sometimes - in an effort to please everyone, Darrell Bevell pleases no one. When you have such a dangerous weapon like Graham, it's tempting to tailor the offense around him or force feed him targets. This is kind of what Seattle tried to do with Percy Harvin (talking offensive philosophy here - not off the field issues). With Graham out, Darrell Bevell and the Seahawks can be free in their playcalling and there will be no internal or external pressure to feed any particular player. They now have the freedom to do what they normally do.
I'm not saying this is how it will work out - but it's interesting to consider.
Simply put, Earl had a rough game last week. He got beat several times in coverage and got juked badly for a rushing touchdown by Martavis Bryant. Earl is still the leader and the foundation of this defense. Seattle needs him back.
Watch to see if the Seahawks get the normal Earl Thomas back on Sunday.