The Vikings started 2016 as one of the league’s hottest teams. They ended the season as one of its coldest.
Following a 4-0 preseason, Minnesota roared out to a 5-0 run to the regular season behind new acquisition Sam Bradford (and an assist from Shaun Hill). Then came the bye week. That week off was a terrible harbinger; the Vikings dropped eight of their final 11 games to fall to third place in the NFC North while watching the Packers and Lions advance to the playoffs.
The Vikings will take another step toward fighting that fatigue Friday night when they travel to Seattle for a preseason game against the Seahawks. Kickoff is set for 10 p.m. ET on NFL Network, with a live stream available on Watch NFL Network.
To get there, they’ll have to improve on an auspicious start.
Minnesota held off Buffalo in a 17-10 preseason slog that saw the Vikings’ offense gain just 34 yards in its first three series. Bradford, entering his second season with the team, completed five of his seven passes, but his check-down routes left him with an inefficient five yards per attempt. Rookie tailback Dalvin Cook, pegged as the heir to Adrian Peterson’s vacated throne, gained only 13 yards on five carries. One of his backups, new addition Bishop Sankey, tore his ACL in the contest and will miss the entire 2017 season.
That’s a bad sign for an offense that ranked 28th in the NFL in yards per play last season.
If your offense is struggling, Seattle is one of the last places you want to be. The Seahawks’ Legion of Boom defense has reunited for 2017, pairing Pro Bowlers like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Michael Bennett together to form one of the league’s most explosive units. Though Seattle’s defensive efficiency fell last season — thanks in part to the broken leg that kept Thomas off the field late in the year — the team was still a top-five squad.
However, the Seahawks still have their own offensive issues to untangle. Marshawn Lynch’s brief retirement left a jumbled depth chart at running back and turned a run-first offense into an inefficient unit. The team added former Packer Eddie Lacy to a group that includes tough-running Thomas Rawls and versatile second-year back C.J. Prosise, but there’s no definite answer in that backfield so far.
In their first preseason game, that trio combined for seven carries and only 18 yards. They’ll have to step up their performance as the regular season approaches — or else Russell Wilson will be counted on even more this fall than he was in 2016.
Rawls will sit out Friday with an ankle injury. That will give Lacy is first start with the Seahawks.
The next step for each side’s beleaguered tailback corps comes Friday. Here’s how you can watch Week 2’s preseason tilt between Minnesota and Seattle.
How to watch Vikings vs. Seahawks
Time: 10 p.m. ET
Place: CenturyLink Field, Seattle
TV: NFL Network
Online: Watch NFL Network