The Seahawks enter Week 9 looking to get back on track after suffering two tough road losses at San Francisco and Detroit. Seattle heads back to CenturyLink Field this Sunday to take on the Minnesota Vikings. They are hoping to extend their unbeaten home record by focusing on defense and preventing third down conversions.
The defense has been the driving force behind most of the Seahawks’ victories this year. When the offense struggled and stalled, the defense could be counted on to make the big stops, or cause turnovers; however, there were always a few third down conversions in long yardage situations that were cause for alarm, and over the last couple of weeks it has cost them games.
The Seahawks are the worst team in the league when defending third down attempts of 10 yards or more. The team is well aware of this problem and making strides to fix it. Linebacker Bobby Wagner stated, “I think we’re going to work hard at it this week, make it the emphasis, and whenever we make something an emphasis we always bounce back next game.”
Another area that Seattle’s defense will have to make an “emphasis” on Sunday is Minnesota’s run game, led by top ranked running back Adrian Peterson. He leads the league with 775 yards rushing and also has the most rushes of 20 yards or more. Minnesota’s passing offense is one of the worst in the league, and Christian Ponder has struggled throwing seven interceptions in his last four games. If Seattle’s 5th ranked rushing defense can limit Peterson, this game should go their way.
The Seahawks have a top ranked offensive weapon at running back as well. Marshawn Lynch is second in rushing yards to Adrian Peterson by a difference of only 18 yards. He is averaging 4.8 yards per attempt, and he broke his longest run of the season last week with a 77-yard touchdown. The Seahawks offense could rely on him more Sunday as a result of multiple injuries in the wide receiving corps. Ben Obomanu has been placed on injured reserve, and Braylon Edwards and Doug Baldwin are questionable for this week’s game.
All of these questions at receiver have only placed added pressure on Russell Wilson as he prepares to face a Vikings defense that has 23 sacks this season. The Seahawks offensive line will be an essential key to victory. They will need to protect Wilson against this quick pass rush and open rushing lanes for Lynch.
Marshawn Lynch could be the difference this week. He is facing a Vikings’ rush defense that gives up an average of 107.6 yards per game. I expect Marshawn Lynch to have a “beast mode” performance. If the Seahawks establish the run early and often, the Vikings defense will struggle to stop them.