A look at the Seahawks next preseason opponent, the Minnesota Vikings
What can the Seahawks expect when Sam Bradford, Dalvin Cook and the rest of the Minnesota Vikings come to town Friday night?
I guess I let the cat out of the bag there by mentioning Bradford and Cook. Make no mistake, the Vikings have a stout defense too. We’ll get to the modern version of the Purple People Eaters soon enough. First, let’s look at who the Seahawks have to deal with on the offensive side of the ball.
As with most teams – at least teams that have any playoff hopes – the offense starts with the quarterback. The Vikings have good one, too. I am in fact thinking of Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is reportedly making good progress from his nasty injury, and that’s great news. Okay, so here’s the tricky part. The Vikings actually have two good quarterbacks. I hereby admit I thought the deal for Sam Bradford was a bad one for the Vikings. Mr. Bradford apparently took exception to my lack of faith. All he did was finish with the highest single season completion percentage (71.6) ever in the NFL. He also threw 20 touchdowns against just five interceptions. Mea culpa, Mr. Bradford. You have my most sincere apologies for doubting you.
I will throw in that was easily his best season ever, so it’s more of an outlier than a typical performance. I also suspected Bradford was simply feasting on the weak defenses of the NFC North. While he did play well in the division – he torched Green Bay for five touchdowns and zero interceptions in the two games – he also played well overall. He lit up the Houston Texans, for example. He didn’t just beat up on the Sisters of the Poor – he earned his record. How he’ll play against the Seahawks, well, that could look a bit different.
Vikings have upgrades at running back, return a solid receiving corps
Last season the Vikings had the worst rushing offense in the league in both total and average yards. They picked up Latavius Murray from the Oakland Raiders and Dalvin Cook from another pro team, the Florida State Seminoles. Murray is a pretty good player, but Cook is expected to beat him out for the starting gig. Cook didn’t do much in his first preseason action, but five carries is a pretty small sample size. I expect him to be a handful for the Seahawks.
Wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen each had over 900 yards receiving last year. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is the real danger, though. He had nearly as many touchdowns (seven) as the wideout duo combined (8).
Seahawks will have to really battle the Minnesota defense
Defensive ends Everson Griffin and Danielle Hunter combined for just over 20 sacks last season. Linval Joseph clogs the rushing lanes and creates general havoc at nose tackle. The Vikings easily have one of the league’s best defensive lines.
The linebacking corps is led by Pro Bowler Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. 10 year starter Chad Greenway has left the building, but there are plenty of solid candidates ready to step in. Edmund Robinson and Emmanuel Lamur will likely see a lot of time against the Seahawks as they battle for the Will linebacker spot.
I think the real strength of the Vikings defense is in their backfield. Led by Pro Bowl free safety Harrison Smith and fellow Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings don’t take a back seat to anyone. Well, not anyone but the LOB. These guys aren’t that far behind, though.
In case you needed a reminder, the Vikings drafted Rhodes with the pick the Seahawks sent for a gentleman named Percy Harvin. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the guy that held Odell Beckham to 23 yards playing opposite Richard Sherman? Considering Minnesota just signed Rhodes to a $70 million extension, we wouldn’t have been seeing him much longer anyway. So once again, thank you Mr. Trade Bust, Percy Harvin.
Remember, preseason wins matter nothing
Finally, think of your expectations for this game. They should be as follows: everyone stays healthy. Everyone stays healthy. The backups look good. Followed by, everybody stays healthy. If you care about winning a preseason game, you’re following the wrong team. Bad teams emphasize winning these practices. Winning builds winning, they’ll claim. Last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the New England Patriots. No one thinks that has any meaning whatsoever. We won last week decisively. Big deal. What matters is that second team players like Trevone Boykin and Kasen Williams looked damn good.
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Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has a terrific preseason record. He’s 13-1 in games that don’t matter. In the real world, he’s 26-22, with one winning season out of three. I think he’s a good coach, and I expect the Vikings will have a winning record this season. The point is, don’t get too wound up if the Seahawks lose Friday night. Just look for more good play, and – you got it – no injuries.