Another creampuff Sunday: Seattle vs. Vikings preview
The biggest story lines for this week's Vikings vs. Seahawks matchup have come from the sidelines. The long-rumored contract extension for Brad Childress was confirmed yesterday, keeping the 8-1 cross-dresser on the Purple sideline through 2013. Chilly's initial contract expired at the end of next year. Personally, I applaud the move: the guy has ascended his win totals from 6 in 2006, to 8 in '07, to 10 last year. He's 32-25 at the Vikings' helm and, really, it's nice to see symbols of consistency in the week-to-week drama that is the NFL.
On a more sobering note, it was reported on Tuesday that Seahawks' owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and is receiving chemotherapy treatment. Allen, also the owner of the NBA's Portland Trailblazers and owner-in-part of Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders FC, is one of the most unique figures in sports today and it goes without saying that his sound recovery would be celebrated by all.
However, turning attentions to the gridiron this Sunday may not make any Seahawk backer feel much better. Seattle is just 3-6 on the season and has yet to win a game on the road (0-4). Of their three victories, just one has come via an opponent with a winning record (a 41-0 stomping of Jacksonville in Week 5). In this second of three consecutive home games versus teams with losing records, I see no reality in which the Vikings' won't escape this baby 9-1.
The Purple now sports the NFC's leading passer in Brett Favre (107.5 rating), the leading receiver in Sid Rice (786 yards) and the second-leading rusher in Adrian Peterson (917 yards). Defensively, while the Purple pass defense is still an assembly of some questionable fortitude (23rd in the league), the unit as a whole continues to lead the NFL in sacks with 34.
The numbers aren't to suggest that the Seahawks are lacking in talent. Rather, on the offensive side of the ball Seattle -- despite missing leading rusher Julius Jones via injury -- does own a bevy of aerial merit. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck took Seattle to Super Bowl XL and is a 3-time Pro Bowler who will soon become the leading passer in Seahawk history; nonetheless, varied injuries have overshadowed his numbers in recent years as Favre's one-time Green Bay
understudy has missed 11 of the 'Hawks last 21 games and has six double-digit interception outings in his last 16 contests played.
Replacing Jones in the backfield will be second-year back Justin Forsett who put up a solid 123 ground yards coupled with a score in Seattle's 31-20 loss to division rival Arizona last week. More sanguine for the Seahawks is the collection of hands awaiting Hasselbeck offerings: wideouts T.J. Houshmandzadeh and one-time Viking Nate Burleson combine for 95 catches and nearly 1,200 yards while Tight End John Carlson (he of Litchfield High) has fast grown into one of the more potent pass-catchers as his position.
Seattle coach Jim Mora, Jr. is something of a defensive guru who has began coaching pro ball back in 1985 at the age of 24. His incumbency in Seattle via Mike Holmgren's understood departure looks to result in advanced victories from the Seahawk's dismal 4-win effort of last year, while the d-unit appears to be slightly improved. Of particular note, keep an eye on linebacker David Hawthorne who has taken over at the middle spot for injured Lofa Tatupu. Hawthorne, an undrafted free agent last year, has accrued a crazy 28 tackles in his last three games,
numbers coupled with three picks, two forced fumbles and three sacks on the season.
Despite playing in over 9,000 career games, Favre doesn't have much of a history against Seattle. He's opposed them his six times in his career, collecting a 3-3 record with an unusually cruddy passer rating of 71.2. Given the Seahawks respectable numbers against the run (they've allowed just one 85-yard rusher since Frank Gore blasted them for 200+ in Week 2), look for Favre to methodically pluck the feathers from the Seahawks' 22nd ranked pass defense with an ample dose of Rice, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe and a lil' bit of Bernard Berrian for good measure.
These teams haven't met since 2006, when the Purple thrashed the 'Hawks 31-13 in Seattle. After Sunday, it's believed herein that Seattle won't want to face the Purple again for at least three more years.
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