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Zulgad: Vikings will attempt to follow Rams’ blueprint for beating Seahawks

By Judd Zulgad

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer undoubtedly has spent countless hours this week breaking down film of the Seattle Seahawks as he prepares for Sunday’s playoff game at TCF Bank Stadium.

This has included the painful process of watching the Seahawks destroy the Vikings, 38-7, on Dec. 6 in Minneapolis, one of Seattle’s six victories in its final seven games. There is likely one game that is more valuable than the others. That would be the St. Louis Rams’ 23-17 victory on Dec. 27 over the host Seahawks.

In the week leading up to the Vikings’ overtime victory over the Rams in early November, the talk was that this would be like two teams looking in the mirror because they shared so many similarities.

That makes it even more likely that Zimmer will borrow from the blueprint that Rams coach Jeff Fisher used to get St. Louis its first victory in Seattle since the 2004 playoffs.

Offensively, the Rams did not post any eye-popping numbers. Quarterback Case Keenum threw for only 103 yards and a touchdown, but he also did not have an interception. Running back Todd Gurley gained 83 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 289 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. More importantly, the Rams defense flustered Wilson, sacking him four times and putting 13 hits on the QB. The Rams also forced three turnovers, including Wilson’s first interception in 168 pass attempts.

St. Louis’ defense was extremely effective against the run, too, holding Seattle to only 59 yards. The victory gave the Rams a sweep of the season series with their NFC West rival.

“I don’t know if we look at it as a blueprint,” Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said. “It’s just one of those deals where we look at certain things that guys were successful with against them. But at the end of the day it’s about doing our jobs and doing what we do inside this defense and letting everything else take care of itself.”

The Vikings were missing nose tackle Linval Joseph in their loss to Seattle and then lost linebacker Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith to injury early in the first quarter. The fact all three should play Sunday will be key, although Seattle is expecting running back Marshawn Lynch to return.`

Zimmer is certain to change up a scheme that gave up 274 yards passing and three touchdowns to Wilson, he wasn’t sacked and posted a 146.0 passer rating, and surrendered 173 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

“I’ve learned he’s really, really good,” Zimmer said of watching Wilson last month. “He throws the deep ball great, he’s extremely accurate on the quick throws, he gets the ball out fast, he sees things, he’s an unbelievable scrambler. There were times when we had him and two guys couldn’t get him. He’s like Houdini.”

The Vikings also can gain confidence from the fact the Rams were able to win without a great offensive performance from any one player. The Vikings need Teddy Bridgewater to play far better than he did in Sunday’s win over Green Bay – he had a season-low 99 yards passing — but it’s not unreasonable to think he could surpass the numbers that Keenum had against the Seahawks.

It’s also not too much to ask for Peterson to equal the day Gurley had and the expectation is that he will exceeded Gurley’s rushing total of 83 yards.

The other factor in all of this will be the cold weather and winds forecast at TCF Bank Stadium. This is expected to be one of the coldest games in NFL history, with temperatures projected to be around 1 degree Sunday. The wind chill on Sunday morning in Minneapolis is projected to be minus-23 degrees.

That could impact Wilson’s ability to throw the ball like he did the first time around against the Vikings. The Vikings will hope that, combined with what they learned from the Rams’ plan, will serve as ingredients for a potential upset.

“We’ve got our own blueprint that we’re going to do around here,” Robison said. “Obviously there are things that other teams were successful with against them but we do it every single week — it doesn’t matter if it’s Seattle.

“You look at, every week, the opponent’s tape and you see what other teams did against them, what kind of schemes they had and you try to apply it, but at the end of the day it’s about what we do.”

The post Zulgad: Vikings will attempt to follow Rams’ blueprint for beating Seahawks appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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