Vikings-Seahawks game plan

The Vikings are starting to sport a pretty balanced offense these days. That's not exactly the case with the Seahawks. Plus, get a few of the key matchups in Sunday's game.

VIKINGS

The fact the Vikings offense has become far more balanced than it ever was previously under coach Brad Childress will again be a benefit.

Brett Favre will have the option of attacking the NFL's 22nd-ranked pass defense through the air, and yet with Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson always a threat, the Seahawks won't be able to let their guard down when it comes to defending the run.

Wide receiver Sidney Rice, who is having a breakout season with Favre as his quarterback, said he has noticed opposing defenses backing off in the box at times and guarding against the pass. That means Peterson could potentially have some more room to run, and when that happens he's extremely dangerous.

The Vikings are going to be tested in the passing game. Matt Hasselbeck likes to throw the ball and the Seahawks have attempted an NFL-high 370 passes this season. Minnesota could certainly use Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield to return from injury in this one, but he is listed as doubtful.

Seattle is ranked 13th in the league, averaging 244.2 passing yards per game, and the Vikings are 23rd in pass defensive, surrendering 234.1 yards. The Seahawks are near the bottom of the league in rushing and given that the Vikings are still very good against the run this is probably going to become Hasselbeck's show when Seattle is on offense.

SEAHAWKS

Offensively, Seattle will look to keep Minnesota's talented defensive front from teeing off on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck by using a variety of quick runs and screens.

Defensively, the Seahawks have to find a way to contain talented running Adrian Peterson and not let him break loose for big gains. If they are can accomplish that daunting task, the Seahawks defensive front must get pressure on veteran quarterback Brett Favre.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Vikings cornerbacks, who could be without Antoine Winfield, vs. Seahawks WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who took the Seahawks free-agent offer over the Vikings this offseason. Houshmandzadeh has the size advantage over most of the cornerbacks — the receiver is 6-2, 203 pounds and the cornerback is 5-9, 180 pounds — but if Winfield plays his biggest nemesis will be battling the rust he might have from his absence.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who is second in the NFL with 917 yards rushing this season, vs. Seahawks MLB David Hawthorne, who leads the Seahawks with 56 tackles. Hawthorne will need some help from up front in containing Peterson as the running back is coming off a 133-yard, two-touchdown performance and will be looking for a similar performance against a run defense that is 11th in the NFL this season (105 yards given up per game). Hawthorne had 11 tackles, his second-highest total of the season, in Seattle's 31-20 loss at Arizona last Sunday.

Vikings DE Jared Allen, who has 10.5 sacks on the year, vs. Seahawks LT Sean Locklear. Seahawks head coach Jim Mora said Locklear was inconsistent against Arizona a week ago. Well, it doesn't get any easier for Locklear, who faces the league's second-leading sack leader in Allen.



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