There is little disputing that the Seattle Seahawks are one of the most dominant teams in the NFL and, given their NFC-best 9-1 record, they are currently viewed as the favorite to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. Considering Seattle hasn't lost at home since Christmas Eve 2011, the last thing any prospective NFL playoff team wants to do is travel to Seattle in January.
The Seahawks have one of the most complete teams in the NFL, capable of winning games on offense, defense and special teams. Seattle has scored 27 or more points in six of 10 games and allowed 17 or fewer in five games. If one side of the ball isn't hitting on all cylinders, the other side of the ball can pick them up.
Offensively, Russell Wilson is quickly moving up on a short list of quarterbacks in terms of efficiency and game-changing ability. While he doesn't throw as many passes as guys like Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, Wilson has thrown for 2,132 yards with 17 touchdowns and just six interceptions, giving him a passer rating of 101.8.
Much like the Vikings offense is centered around Adrian Peterson, Seattle's offense runs through power running back Marshawn Lynch. He's run 191 times for 871 yards and seven touchdowns, reaffirming his nickname of "Beast Mode." When Seattle gets a lead, Lynch helps the team close out games because he's just as strong in the fourth quarter as the first.
The receiver corps is getting a huge boost with the return of Percy Harvin. Traded to Seattle in the offseason, Harvin will make his debut Sunday, and considering that another former Viking, Sidney Rice, was placed on injured reserve, Harvin will be a welcome addition. Unlike a lot of teams that have "go-to" receivers, the Seahawks spread the ball around. Golden Tate is their leading receiver with 41 catches for 571 yards and four touchdowns, but Jermaine Kearse has four touchdowns on just 13 receptions and rookie tight end Luke Wilson has three TDs on just 11 catches. With Doug Baldwin (34 receptions) and Zach Miller (18 receptions, three TDs), the Seahawks have multiple weapons that Wilson uses often.
What makes Seattle's offensive production so impressive is that they've done it for the most part without left tackle Russell Okung, a Pro Bowl left tackle who was the rock of the offensive line. He's was on injured reserve, but was designated to return and, while he's getting ready to return, the Seahawks have made due with Paul McQuistan at left tackle without a significant drop-off. With Pro Bowl center Max Unger anchoring the middle of the O-line, the Seahawks have the ability to move players in run blocking, protect Wilson in the pocket, and trap and pull when Wilson reads the option of him running. They're smaller, but athletic, and are a perfect fit with the offensive style of the Seahawks.
While the Seattle offense is what gets most of the publicity, it's the Seahawks defense that is just as integral to the team's success. It starts up front and the Seahawks have an impressive defensive line. Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel are underrated defensive tackles who are assignment-sound and rookie Jordan Hill is working his way onto the field. McDaniel is listed as questionable, but he practiced in full Friday and is expected to play – the only question being how much? The defensive end rotation is deep and impressive. Red Bryant is one of the best run-stopping/edge-setting defensive ends in the league and the other three players in the rotation – Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons and Michael Bennett are all ferocious pass rushers. The Vikings will be hard-pressed to keep them out of the backfield, since they are mixed and matched in such a way that they are always fresh.
Seattle turned some heads last year when they took Bruce Irvin in the first round. Viewed as a high-upside player, he has thrived as an outside linebacker. With Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright in their second and third years respectively, the Seahawks have one of youngest, most athletic and talented linebacker corps in the league and will have them intact for some time to come.
What has helped make Seattle a dominant defense is a secondary so good that Antoine Winfield was cut in the preseason because the team wanted to invest in a younger player with more upside potential. Richard Sherman is one of the pre-eminent trash talkers in the league, but it works for him because he can back it up. Flanked by Walter Thurmond, Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas and big-hitting Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks have a young secondary that is growing into a dominant unit.
If there is a problem with the Seahawks, it is that so many of their players are young and going to be looking for the big second NFL contract in the next couple of years. It will likely be impossible to keep the band together, but for now there are few teams as dominant as Seattle, much less playing at home – where they haven't lost in almost two years. If the Vikings are going to beat the Seahawks, they may have to pull the "perfect game" because, as things stand when a 9-1 team at home faces a 2-7 team on the road, it will take a perfect game to knock them off.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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