Game Preview: Vikings at Seahawks

The Seahawks (2-1) host the Vikings (2-1) in the final preseason tune-up before the regular season kicks off on September 12th.

What: Preseason Game #4
When: Thursday, September 2nd, 6:00 pm (PST)
Where: Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington


Vikings Key Players:

QB Dante Culpepper: Culpepper has had an excellent preseason throwing for 448 yards, four touchdowns and only one interception. He has also been ultra-accurate completing almost 74% of his passes. Culpepper's huge body (6'4", 265 lbs) allows him to absorb hits, take punishment, and still get off strong throws downfield. His athleticism is among the best in the NFL for a quarterback as he can be a threat on the ground as well. Could 2004 be his breakout season where he isn't plagued by nagging injuries or bad decisions? Some think it might.

WR Randy Moss: Moss is quite simply the best wideout in the NFL and arguably the most dangerous player on either side of the ball. Moss has had a good preseason catching 14 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. He is bigger and stronger than he has ever been and while he has bulked up he hasn't lost any of his game-breaking speed. He is at his best when the ball is in the air. No one takes the ball away from him…period.

RB Moe Williams: With starter Michael Bennett on the sideline for five more weeks with a bum knee and backup Onterrio Smith out serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Williams becomes the feature back. Williams could start on half the teams in the NFL and would likely be a 1,000 yard runner. Williams is great out of the backfield catching passes and while he has enough of a burst to get the corner he is at his best running between the tackles.

LT Bryant McKinnie: Already one of the most athletic tackles in the league, McKinnie is entering his third season as a starter and his size (6'8", 350 lbs), wingspan and feet have many projecting him as a dominant tackle for years to come. He just engulfs rushers with his massive body and he pancakes defenders on running plays. He still needs to work a little on double rush moves but he is already very good.

DT Chris Hovan: Hovan is the "elder statesman" along the defensive line and his motor is always running. 2003 was a down year for the four-year veteran and insiders and coaches alike think he will have a bounce back year in 2004.

CB Antoine Winfield: Winfield came over from Buffalo as a free agent this offseason and immediately upgraded the Vikings secondary which had been mediocre to say the least. Winfield is undersized (5'9", 180 lbs), but he plays bigger than that and his aggressiveness is rare for a player of his dimensions. He finished 2003 with 109 tackles (almost unheard of for a corner) and one interception with 12 passes defensed. The Vikings expect him to be the shutdown corner they have lacked the last few years.


Key Matchups:

Players vs. Injuries: This is the single-most important "matchup" of this game. Starters will likely only play a few series or the first quarter and then head to the sidelines. Many bubble players will see time and while they are hoping to make plays they must be aware of the injury bug that has reared its ugly head this preseason.

Seahawks defensive line vs. Vikings offensive line: The Vikings have the largest offensive line in the league, averaging 326 lbs. They are very good at blocking for the run but they are also adept at pass-protection. DT's Cedric Woodard, Rashad Moore, Rocky Bernard, and Marcus Tubbs while big in their own right will need to outquick these behemoths and work on their stunts to confuse them. McKinney is very athletic and free agent signee Grant Wistrom will test out his foot against the future Pro Bowler.

Seahawks CB's Ken Lucas and Marcus Trufant vs. Randy Moss: Moss lit up Lucas last season in the Vikings' blowout of the Hawks in Minnesota catching two long touchdowns (47 and 45 yards respectively). Lucas and Trufant have both had excellent camps and Moss will be a good test to see how much they have progressed from last season.

Seahawks WR's vs. Vikings secondary: Engram should be able to exploit the nickel corners for the Vikings and Robinson/Jackson versus Winfield should be fun to watch early on. Vikings S Brian Russell tied for the league lead in interceptions with nine last season and he is always dangerous when the ball is in the air.

News and Notes: Vikings head coach Mike Tice played tight end for ten seasons with the Seahawks (1981-88, 90-91); In the preseason, the Seahawks are 4-4 against the Vikings in eight all-time meetings; The two teams have not played in the preseason since opening at Canton, Ohio, in the Hall of Fame Game on July 26, 1997, which the Vikings won 28-26; Seahawks lead all-time regular season series 5-3 losing last year a Minnesota 34-7.



Minnesota: CB Brian Williams Knee (Out); S Tyrone Carter Knee (Out); OT Bryant McKinnie Knee (Questionable); C Cory Withrow Concussion (Questionable); RB Micheal Bennett Knee (Out); WR Marcus Robinson Hamstring (Questionable); C Matt Birk Back (Out).

Seattle: OT Chris Terry Shoulder (Probable) DT Marcus Tubbs Hamstring (Questionable); LB Chad Brown Leg (Out); LB D.D. Lewis Shoulder (Out); Grant Wistrom Foot (Probable); QB Brock Huard Back (Out).


Prediction: Seahawks 24 – Vikings 19

.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at Top Stories