Of all the positives that both the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks have had this season, there is one key aspect to both of their games that has been a struggle all season and remains a big issue for both of them moving forward: protecting their quarterback.
When you look at the bottom seven or eight teams in any significant category, they are usually teams at the bottom of the standings. When you look at the bottom eight teams in sacks per pass play allowed, there are a couple of surprises at the bottom.
Nos. 25-32 in sacks allowed per pass play are Miami, Cleveland, Buffalo, San Francisco, Tennessee, Minnesota, Kansas City and Seattle.
Both the Vikings and Seahawks have endured similar problems on the offensive line. The Vikings lost veterans John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt in the preseason and have four players in new positions along the line compared to 2014.
Seattle has seen a similar turnaround, but for different reasons. The traded Pro Bowl center Max Unger to New Orleans in the Jimmy Graham trade and lost left guard James Carpenter to the Jets in free agency. Right tackle Justin Britt had to be moved to the left side as a guard, creating three new players in O-line spots from last season.
In a game that looks to be dominated by defense, it may come down to which team can protect its quarterback better because, for all the good things both the Vikings and Seahawks have done this season, allowing their quarterbacks to be comfortable when they drop to pass hasn’t been one of them.
VIKINGS-SEAHAWKS BY THE NUMBERS
- The Vikings have the 28th-ranked offense (1st rushing, 31st passing) and the ninth-ranked defense (20th rushing 4th passing).
- The Seahawks have the eighth-ranked offense (2nd rushing, 22nd passing) and the fourth-ranked defense (5th rushing, 9th passing).
- Seattle is averaging 374 yards a game (230 passing, 144 rushing). Minnesota is averaging 333 yards a game (187 passing, 146 rushing).
- The Vikings are allowing 334 yards a game (223 passing, 111 rushing). The Seahawks are allowing 325 yards a game (232 passing, 93 rushing).
- Seattle is seventh in takeaway/giveaway ratio at plus-5 (16 takeaways, 11 giveaways). Minnesota is tied for ninth at plus-3 (14 takeaways, 11 giveaways).
- The Seahawks are 25th in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 13 of 27 red zone possessions (48.1 percent). The Vikings are 27th at 43.3 percent (13 TDs on 30 possessions).
- Defensively, Minnesota is third in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on just 13 of 30 possessions (43.3 percent). Seattle is fifth at 44.8 percent (13 touchdowns on 29 possessions).
- The Seahawks are 15th in third-down efficiency, converting on 57 of 144 possessions (39.6 percent). The Vikings are 19th at 37.4 percent (50 conversions on 139 opportunities). The league average is 38.5 percent.
- Defensively, Seattle is fifth in the league on third down, allowing conversions on 46 of 138 opportunities (33.3 percent). Minnesota is sixth at 33.8 percent (48 of 142).
- The Vikings have the best average starting position following kickoffs at the 24.5-yard line. Seattle is sixth with an average starting position of the 22.8-yard line. The league average is the 21.6-yard line.
- Teddy Bridgewater and Russell Wilson each have one 300-yard passing game this season.
- The Vikings and Seahawks have each allowed one 300-yard passer.
- Both teams have three 100-yard receivers. For the Vikings, Stefon Diggs has two and Kyle Rudolph has one. For the Seahawks, Doug Baldwin has two and Graham has one.
- Adrian Peterson leads the NFL with six 100-yard rushing games. Seattle has four – three from Thomas Rawls and one from Marshawn Lynch.
- The Vikings have allowed three 100-yard rushers. The Seahawks haven’t allowed any.
- Wilson is 21st in the league in pass attempts (325), 16th in completions (220), 4th in completion percentage (67.7), 14th in pass yards (2,723), 14th in touchdowns (18), tied for 11th in interceptions (7) and 4th in passer rating (102.9).
- Bridgewater is 23rd in attempts (319), 20th in completions (208), 9th in completion percentage (65.2), 23rd in yards (2,280), 29th in touchdowns (8), tied for 11th in interceptions (7) and 22nd in passer rating (85.4).
- Wilson is fourth in the league in fourth-quarter passer rating at 107.3. Bridgewater is 26th with a rating of 83.6.
- Wilson is fourth in third-down passer rating at 106.8. Bridgewater is 12th with a rating of 89.3.
- Peterson leads the NFL in rushing with 1,164 yards – 126 yards ahead of second-place Doug Martin. Rawls in 10th with 685 yards despite starting just five games.
- Baldwin leads the Seahawks with 50 receptions, which ties him for 35th place in the league. Diggs leads the Vikings with 40 catches, which ties him for 59th place.
- Baldwin leads Seattle with 684 receiving yards, which ranks him 30th in the league. Diggs has 604 receiving yards to lead the Vikings, which ties him for 38th place.
- Peterson is tied for eighth in the league in scoring among non-kickers with 48 points (eight touchdowns). Baldwin is tied for 27th with 36 points (six touchdowns).
- Blair Walsh is seventh in scoring among kickers with 91 points. Steven Hauschka is 11th with 85 points.
- Peterson leads the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,347 yards (1,164 rushing, 183 receiving). Rawls leads the Seahawks with 739 yards (685 rushing, 54 receiving).
- Seattle’s Jon Ryan is 17th in punting average at 45.8 yards. Jeff Locke is 32nd with an average of 42.0.
- Ryan is 27th in net punting average at 38.2 yards. Locke is 28th at 38.1 yards.
- Marcus Sherels is ninth in punt return average at 9.8 yards. Seattle’s Tyler Lockett is 21st at 6.8 yards.
- Cordarrelle Patterson is third in the league in kickoff returns at 29.2 yards. Lockett is eighth with a 25.3-yard average.
- Terence Newman and Seattle’s Earl Thomas are tied for 13th in the league with three interceptions.
- Everson Griffen and Seattle’s Cliff Avril are tied for seventh in sacks with 7½. Michael Bennett of the Seahawks is tied for 17th with 6½.