The forecast for Sunday’s wild-card game between Seattle and Minnesota calls for high temperatures that match the jersey number of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson: 3 — with a wind chill of minus-8.
If either team is concerned about the game, which is set for 10 a.m. PST and will be broadcast on NBC, it’s not saying so.
Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, formerly on the Vikings staff, told reporters this week that the Seahawks are “kind of built for” the cold.
“We’re a running team, running philosophy, so we know that to hand the ball to the running back 25, 30 times is exactly how we want to play the game,” he said. “You can still throw the ball in that, you just have to protect the ball, be smart with it, and that’s what we plan on doing.”
“What is it outside, 30 degrees, 35? We’re 30 degrees, 35, sleeveless and just doing whatever you can,” cornerback Richard Sherman said, according to the Seattle Times. “There’s no simulating zero degrees. I guess I could go in the freezer upstairs and close the door. Sit there for a few minutes.”
Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner said he doesn’t plan to let the cold affect his game plan.
“The games I’ve been in, in this type of situation, we try to keep it the way we [usually] play the game,” Turner said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “And I’ve, through the years, been fortunate to be in games like this where we throw the ball pretty well and have been pretty aggressive.
“We’ve got to go run our offense.”
The coldest NFL game on record was the “Ice Bowl,” the 1967 NFL championship game, when the host Green Bay Packers beat Dallas, 21-17, in temperatures that dipped to minus-15.
“I don’t look at the game like that as far as if it’s the Ice Bowl or anything like that,” Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said. “We’re in it, it’s the playoffs, it’s just the conditions that we’re dealt right now. We’re going to go out there, put our heating pads on, foot warmers, whatever we need to do to play ball.”
The weather might be frigid, but Seattle’s Wilson is smoking. In the final seven games of the regular season, he had 24 touchdown passes and one interception.
In eight career postseason games, Wilson has 12 touchdowns, six interceptions — four of which came in last season’s NFC title game against the Packers — and a 6-2 record, with a Super Bowl ring.
Ground and pound
The Seahawks have ruled out running back Marshawn Lynch for the game, but All-Pro Adrian Peterson is ready to shoulder his share of the load for the Vikings.
Peterson captured his third career NFL rushing title this season with 1,485 yards on the ground.
By the numbers
How the teams compare statistically. All stats are per-game averages, except for turnover differential, which is for the season (league rank in parentheses):
STATISTICS | SEA | MIN
Points scored | 26.4 (T4) | 22.8 (16)
Points allowed |17.3 (1) | 18.9 (5)
Pass offense | 236.9 (20) |183.0 (31)
Rush offense | 141.8 (3) | 138.2 (4)
Pass defense | 210.2 (2) | 234.9 (12)
Rush defense | 81.5 (1) | 109.2 (17)
Sacks | 37 (17) | 43 (T7)
Penalty yards | 62.9 (T23) | 49.8 (8)
Turnovers | +6 (T6) | +5 (T10)
Sam Farmer’s pick
This game will hinge on how the two quarterbacks handle the cold. Teddy Bridgewater has had a really good season, but Wilson is on a historic pace. This should be close, but Seattle is loaded with experience and will pull away down the stretch.
SEAHAWKS 27, VIKINGS 23