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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Young Vikings face playoff experience gap against tested Seahawks

By Andrew Krammer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — While the Vikings have been laying a solid foundation with 20 draft picks over the last two years, the Seattle Seahawks have been making Super Bowl appearances.

The experience scales are tilted heavily in Seattle’s favor heading into Sunday’s wild-card bout, the Vikings’ first home playoff game in six years. It’s just the franchise’s second postseason appearance in that stretch, and the first for many main contributors as they’ve built a young corps that has already claimed a NFC North title in the second season of coach Mike Zimmer’s tenure.

Zimmer briefly laid out the opportunity the Vikings have as players returned to the team’s Winter Park training facilities on Wednesday. The “intensity level” of the playoffs will be a topic of discussion for a Vikings’ roster that has just seven active players who have played in more than one postseason game.

“We’ve had some guys in [the playoffs],” Zimmer said. “And I’ve talked to them about what to expect and right now it’s really about preparation and execution for us. And then as the week goes on, then we’ll start talking more about the intensity level of the playoffs and things. But I’ve talked to them about it a little bit already.”

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is one of the 18 draft picks since 2014 on the current active roster, and is preparing for his first-ever playoff start in the frigid confines of TCF Bank Stadium.

“You can tell that the guys’ focus is totally different,” Bridgewater said. “Coach Zimmer said something this morning in the team meeting, ‘now you’re playing for trophies and rings, not just banners’. Hearing that, it lets you know that it’s go time. I walked in the facility this morning and the guys were locked in. Those guys have that intensity, that look in their eyes that they want to get it done.”

Sunday also presents a rematch opportunity after the Seahawks trounced the Vikings, shutting out their offense in a 38-7 drubbing on Dec. 6. Players called that loss an “embarrassment,” with defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd saying this week he’s relishing the chance to potentially end the Seahawks’ bid for a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance.

Emotions can run high, and right now the Vikings are trying to keep that all in check.

“We can’t worry about the playoff experience until we do the things right in order for us to win,” Zimmer said, referencing his focus on game preparation before stressing the stage. “They beat us pretty badly last time we played them. It wasn’t close.”

Only Vikings cornerback Terence Newman, who has made seven postseason appearances in 13 NFL seasons, has more playoff experience than the many Seahawks that took part in their recent Super Bowl runs. Six other Vikings have played in four playoff games, including nose tackle Linval Joseph, linebacker Chad Greenway, running back Adrian Peterson, defensive end Brian Robison, receiver Mike Wallace and defensive tackle Tom Johnson.

“They’ve been sharing some wisdom with the guys, some knowledge on how to approach these kind of games,” Bridgewater said. “And it’s been very helpful for us.”

Johnson, who briefly appeared in four playoff games for the New Orleans Saints in 2011 and 2013, said closing the regular season with consecutive appearances on Sunday Night Football should help.

However, an elimination scenario presents a different type of mental challenge.

“Some guys make the moment too big on that stage, whether they’re nervous or whatever,” Johnson said. “That’s the biggest deal, most guys overthink it. And as you overthink it, you make bad mistakes and bad stuff starts happening. So don’t make the moment too big.”

The post Young Vikings face playoff experience gap against tested Seahawks appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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