Minnesota Vikings vs Seattle Seahawks preview and live stream details. Jan 10th 2016.
Minnesota had the league’s fifth-best scoring defense this season (18.9 points per game) thanks in large part to a collection of budding or realized stars at every level of Mike Zimmer’s unit. When Russell Wilson ran roughshod over them in December, many of those stars were roaming the sideline in sweatpants. They were missing Harrison Smith, the blitzing, pick-sixing, do-it-all man at the back end of Minnesota’s defense, who has as diverse a skillset as any safety in football. Linebacker Anthony Barr, a similar type of renaissance defender at linebacker, was gone too. And nose tackle Linval Joseph, who might have been the Vikings’ best defender this season, was out with a hip injury.
As the season went along, Seattle’s offensive line improved on its frightful start, but that improvement was relative. It meant going from 31st in pressure rate from Weeks 1 through 8 to 26th from Weeks 9 through 17. The Seahawks’ offensive line is still the area that can short-circuit the team, and in Minnesota they’re getting one of the best pass-rush units in football. The Vikings finished the season with the fourth-highest pressure rate in the league, but what might be most concerning is that Minnesota is at its best when bringing extra guys. Mike Zimmer actually blitzes at a below-average rate, but when he does, it works. No team got pressure more often on blitzes this season than Minnesota, at 49.4 percent.
For Minnesota, that has to be considered a plus. The lesser team typically makes out better when a game is mucked up, especially if that team is dependent on running and defense, as the Vikings are. It may not seem like much, but if the Vikings can make Russell Wilson feel the cold and use that defense and the elements to pry away a few extra possessions, they could steal a game not many expect them to win.
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