Keys to the game
Seattle fans have been waiting eagerly since March to see Percy Harvin on the field, and they’ll finally get their chance. It will come against Harvin’s former team, which traded him to Seattle for three draft choices, including a 2013 first-rounder. The Seahawks figure to ease Harvin into things, considering he has had only one full week of practice since hip surgery Aug. 1. Specifically, he might not return kicks. But the Seahawks will be excited to finally kick the tires a bit on their big offseason purchase and get him ready for the December stretch run and into the playoffs.
Putting the APB on A.P.
Adrian Peterson’s numbers are down a bit from 2012, when he rushed for an astonishing 2,097 yards, just 8 off Eric Dickerson’s NFL season record. He remains one of the most-feared threats in the NFL, capable of carrying a team to victory. He tried to do that a year ago in Seattle when he rushed for 182 yards on 17 carries. The Seahawks, though, overcame the Vikings 30-20. Seattle’s run defense was much improved a week ago, allowing just 64 yards against the Falcons after having been chewed up for a combined 405 in closer-than-expected victories over St. Louis and Tampa Bay. It hardly needs stating that Peterson will provide a much stiffer test than the Falcons.
Aside from Peterson, Minnesota’s biggest strength is its return units. Kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson leads the NFL with 35.2 yards per kick return and punt returner Marcus Sherels leads the league at 16.3 yards per return. Seattle, meanwhile, is the best punt-cover team in the NFL, having allowed just 15 punt-return yards all season on 11 attempts, with a long of 10. And the Seahawks’ kickoff-coverage team has been solid, not allowing a return longer than 40. Don’t be surprised to see the Vikings get aggressive with any return opportunity. Patterson had a 109-yard kickoff return earlier this season to set an NFL record.