Why this game is intriguing: The surprising Vikings concluded the first half of the season at 5-3, a shock in a division that no one thought they'd factor into. That, in itself, is a major accomplishment. Yet if they want to think about the playoffs, they have no choice but to keep grinding. The Packers are back on track, the Bears have found a way, and even the Lions have firepower. This may be an ugly, hard-hitting game, with the physical Seahawks secondary doing their best to take Percy Harvin out of Christian Ponder's game plan. And did we mention Ponder must maintain his poise in the fiercest of environments? That's exactly the kind of game that screams for a lot of Adrian Peterson. This is winnable for both teams, and with the playoff picture getting foggy, both need it.
The Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks didn't end the first half of the season how they wanted. Both are hoping the second half starts on a positive note Sunday.
The Vikings will try to rebound from their most lopsided loss of the year and hand a third consecutive defeat to the Seahawks, who seek their best start at home since 2005.
This game features the NFL's top rushers, with Minnesota's Adrian Peterson (775 yards) having a slight lead on Seattle's Marshawn Lynch (757). Both are coming off a second straight 100-yard game but had season lows in carries -- 12 for Lynch and 15 for Peterson -- and their teams both lost.
The Vikings (5-3) have yet to drop back-to-back games and enter this matchup after nine days off. They got no closer than 13 points in the second half of their last game, falling 36-17 to Tampa Bay on Oct. 25 for their first home loss.
Minnesota plays five of its final eight games on the road, with two apiece against Chicago and Green Bay as well a matchup at AFC-best Houston.
"This set up perfectly for us to put an exclamation point on these first eight and have some days before Seattle and try to eke out a tough one on the road," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "Now, it definitely changes your mentality."
The Seahawks (4-4), meanwhile, return home following road losses to San Francisco and Detroit. They're 1-4 on the road with 11 turnovers, compared to two at home.
"We didn't play well enough on the road in the first half, is really what it comes down to," coach Pete Carroll told the Seahawks' official website Monday, a day after a 28-24 loss to the Lions.
"We didn't finish the games we were close in."
The Seahawks, though, are 3-0 at home for the second time in three years, with the last two wins versus Green Bay and New England coming by a total of three points. They haven't opened 4-0 since 2005 and haven't won four straight home games at any point in a season since 2007.
Rookie Russell Wilson has been far better at CenturyLink Field (six TDs, no interceptions) than on the road (four TDs, eight INTs).
Lynch has been good regardless of the venue. Seattle has a league-low 210 passing attempts and Lynch is second in the NFL with 159 carries, averaging 6.7 per attempt in the last two games.
He's facing a Minnesota defense which has allowed three consecutive 100-yard rushers.
"In my mind, he's one of the best in our business so we better get our run (defense) fixed in a hurry," coach Leslie Frazier told the Vikings' official website.
The Seahawks have one of the best run defenses in the league, allowing 84.9 yards per game, but could have their hands full with Peterson. The four-time All-Pro has run for 276 yards with two TDs over the past two weeks, and he's averaging 5.1 per carry to rank second among players with at least 80 attempts.
"He's special. You make your block, and you know he's going to do something with it," said Seattle receiver and former Viking Sidney Rice. "And if you don't, he's still going to do something with it."
Rice caught two TD passes for Minnesota when these teams last met, and Peterson ran for 82 yards in that 35-9 Vikings home win Nov. 22, 2009.
It appears Rice, leading Seattle with 28 receptions, could get plenty of targets as Wilson deals with a depleted receiving corps. Ben Obomanu (wrist) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Braylon Edwards (swollen knee) might miss a second straight game, Golden Tatetweaked an ankle last Sunday and Doug Baldwin (high ankle sprain) is a "longshot" to play, according to Carroll.
Whoever lines up at wide receiver will face a Vikings secondary without corner Chris Cook, who suffered a broken right arm against Tampa Bay. Rookie Josh Robinson is expected to take Cook's place in basic coverage, while A.J. Jefferson could slide in for Cook in Minnesota's nickel package.
The Vikings, though, could welcome back safety Mistral Raymond (ankle) after he missed the last five games.
Minnesota also has concerns at quarterback as Christian Ponder has thrown all seven of his interceptions in the last four games. The Vikings have 10 turnovers in those contests after having four in the first four.
"It's going to be hard for us to achieve our goals if we're not able to improve our passing game," Frazier said.
That also means the offensive line needs to do a better job protecting Ponder, sacked 10 times in the last three games. That group needs to keep an eye on end Chris Clemons, who has half of Seattle's 10 sacks at home.
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has at least one sack in each of the last six games.