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Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Prediction

Author:
Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

The Minnesota Vikings (8-3) look to prove their legitimacy as a contender in the NFC when they host the reigning conference champion Seattle Seahawks (6-5) on Sunday. The Vikings have won six of their last seven games including a 20-10 win at Atlanta last week to reclaim sole possession of first place in the NFC North.

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Seattle has won four of its last five games after a disappointing 1-2 start. But the Seahawks need to battle through crucial injuries — including those to running back Marshawn Lynch and tight end Jimmy Graham — in order to overcome Arizona's three-game lead in the NFC West.

Seattle at Minnesota

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)
TV: FOX
Spread: Seattle -1

Three Things to Watch

1. Adrian Peterson vs. Seattle rushing defense
Peterson had another monster performance in Week 12, piling up 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while also catching two passes for 29 yards.

He was also named NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November after recording an NFL-best 634 yards and five touchdowns on 117 carries. Peterson leads the league with 1,164 yards rushing, which is even more remarkable considering his nearly year-long absence from NFL action heading into the season.

But he may face his toughest test against a Seattle defense that has allowed a combined 117 rushing yards against San Francisco and Pittsburgh in its last two games — albeit with both teams missing their starting running backs.

2. Will Seattle's offense continue to shine despite crucial injuries?

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Seattle's offense has seen a recent resurgence with 100 points scored in its last three games. The Seahawks recorded a season-best 336 passing yards and 39 points against Pittsburgh in Week 12.

But Seattle must overcome a rash of injuries on offense, including Marshawn Lynch and Jimmy Graham (out for the season) in an already difficult matchup against a Minnesota defense that intercepted Matt Ryan twice and recovered a fumble in last week's win. It was the Vikings' fifth game this season with at least one takeaway.

3. Teddy Bridgewater vs. Legion of Boom

It was Seattle that traded its first-round pick (No. 32 overall) to Minnesota in the 2014 NFL draft as part of the deal that brought Percy Harvin to the Seahawks. The Vikings used that pick to select Bridgewater, their quarterback of the present and the future. Bridgewater has been a solid game manager through his first two seasons and continues to develop.

Seattle's "Legion of Boom" defensive backs haven't been as dominant as they were during the team's Super Bowl run in 2013 since losing defensive coordinator Dan Quinn — now head coach of the Atlanta Falcons — as well as Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond in free agency. Seattle allowed 480 passing yards in Week 12 and has been exposed throughout the season.

Can Bridgewater provide a strong performance to take some pressure off Peterson and the Minnesota rushing attack?

Final Analysis

The Vikings look more like the complete team Seattle was during its back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. Head coach Mike Zimmer has turned Minnesota's defense into one of the best in the league while Adrian Peterson remains the NFL's best running back and a potential MVP candidate.

Seattle may have improved in recent weeks but still has several holes in its defense and has too many crucial injuries on offense.

Prediction: Vikings 17, Seahawks 10

— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhallFSN.