Hawks vs. Vikes Preview
Minneapolis, MN - Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre have helped make the Minnesota Vikings one of the top teams in the NFL, but a sloppy victory has them looking to make adjustments.
The Seattle Seahawks, meanwhile, are feeling encouraged despite fading in the NFC West race.
The Vikings will try to be more efficient Sunday when they host the Seahawks for the first time in nearly five years.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Redskins -7 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on the Bucs +7 (View NFL bet percentages).
Minnesota (8-1) is atop the NFC North with a three-game lead over second-place Green Bay, and just one game behind unbeaten New Orleans in the race for home-field advantage in the conference playoffs.
That success has been partly due to Peterson and Favre as the Vikings have scored 271 points, ranking only behind the Saints' 331.
Peterson is second in the NFL with 917 rushing yards and 11 TDs, while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. However, he fumbled twice and the Vikings committed a season-high 13 penalties in a 27-10 win over Detroit last week.
Minnesota, which has 10 turnovers all season to rank among the league leaders, pulled away with 10 fourth-quarter points.
"We bounced back pretty well, but we can't have that," said Peterson, who finished with 133 yards and two TDs on 18 carries. "To get the things that we want to accomplish, we have to make sure that we scratch those things out. Penalties, things we can control."
Favre is looking to continue his superb play since coming out of retirement again to join the Vikings. The future Hall of Famer leads the NFL with a 107.5 passer rating, while ranking third in completion percentage (68.1). He's also thrown 17 touchdowns with three interceptions - down from a season-high 22 last season with the New York Jets.
Favre passed for a season-high 344 yards against the Lions and Minnesota racked up 492 yards of total offense. Sidney Rice, who has emerged as Favre's top target, caught seven balls for a career-high 201 yards.
But one area of concern for the Vikings could be their recent slow starts. They've totaled 10 points during the first quarters of the last three games after getting 14 in each of the previous two.
"To be a great team, we have to come out from the jump and play all four quarters," rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin said. "We're doing some great things, but we haven't reached our peak yet."
The Vikings haven't faced the Seahawks since a 31-13 win at Seattle on Oct. 22, 2006. They haven't hosted them since falling 27-23 on Dec. 12, 2004.
The Seahawks (3-6) appear to be gaining confidence despite losing 18 of their last 25 regular-season games.
Some optimism might be understandable, as Seattle accumulated a season-high 472 yards only to see its three-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate while giving up two fourth-quarter touchdowns in last week's 31-20 loss at Arizona.
That dropped the Seahawks three games behind of the first-place Cardinals in the West race and Arizona owns the tiebreaker by sweeping the season series.
Still, It also prompted a bold prediction from outspoken star receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who told first-year coach Jim Mora, "We're not losing another game."
Houshmandzadeh has reason to feel optimistic, getting season highs with nine catches and 165 receiving against the Cardinals. He had 169 yards with three touchdowns on 19 receptions over the previous four games.
"I'd rather hear that than, 'Oh God, what are we going to do? How are we going to win?'" Mora said of Houshmandzadeh's prediction. "You can call it false enthusiasm, false confidence, but it's certainly the mindset you want your team to have."
Seattle will try to carry that attitude on the road, where it's lost five in a row since beating St. Louis on Dec. 14. The Seahawks are 2-12 in their last 14 games as the visitor.
Still, Mora remains outwardly optimistic, and thinks his players still believe it's possible to achieve their goal of returning to the postseason after a one-year absence.
"From their reaction I got in the locker room (Sunday), I do," Mora said. "There's hope. Disappointment, but (we are) somewhat encouraged."
Matt Hasselbeck continues to play through broken ribs and a sore shoulder. The quarterback completed 26 of 52 passes for 315 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions last week after throwing for a season-high 329 yards with a score and a pick in a 32-30 win over Detroit on Nov. 8.
It doesn't appear the Seahawks will have running back Julius Jones, the team leader with 392 rushing yards and two touchdowns, after he suffered a bruised lung last week.
"At this point, I would say it would be unlikely that he would be cleared to play on Sunday," said Mora, adding that Justin Forsett and Louis Rankin will get more carries over the next few weeks.
Posted: 11/18/09 1:10AM ET