By Dave Thomas

With a huge win in their back pockets this past Sunday against Pittsburgh, the 6-5 Seattle Seahawks begin a two-game road trip this coming Sunday in Minnesota against the NFC North-leading Vikings.

At 8-3, the Vikings are no doubt surprising some around the NFL, not to mention some in their very own fan base. While Green Bay (7-4) was likely the darling pick of many in the division, the Vikings have put the Packers (despite losing to them recently) and others around the NFC on notice. With Adrian Peterson having a solid season (1,164 yards on the ground) to lead the league in rushing, Minnesota is looking like a prime contender for NFC bragging rights when all is said and done.

Seahawks Need To Ride Momentum Into Minnesota

Seattle will look to make it two straight wins, this after hanging on to beat a game Pittsburgh team 39-30.  The victory was highlighted by quarterback Russell Wilson’s five touchdown passes, as the Seahawks needed a ton of offense to keep pace with Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. On the down side, tight end Jimmy Graham went down in the second half with a season-ending patellar tendon injury. With Graham done until 2016, Luke Willson has a chance now to emerge as a go-to player at that position.

When Seattle rolls into Minnesota this weekend, it will find a team brimming with confidence. Not only is Peterson having a solid season to date, but quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (2,280 yards passing, 8 TD’s) is doing a nice job under center, while wide receiver Stefon Diggs (604 yards receiving) has been the main target to throw to. On the defensive side of the ball, Minnesota turns to linebacker Anthony Barr (61 total tackles), corner Terence Newman (3 INT’s), and defensive end Everson Griffen (7.5 sacks) to lead the way.

For the Vikings, a season-opening 20-3 loss at San Francisco seems like years in the past, especially given how Minnesota has played since that Monday night debacle in the Bay Area. After losing to the lowly Niners, Minnesota defeated Detroit and San Diego rather handily before falling to Denver by three points. The Vikings then ripped off five straight victories before a home loss two Sundays ago (30-13) to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Minnesota, which defeated Atlanta 20-10 on the road this past Sunday, will get the Packers at Lambeau Field Jan. 3 to end regular-season play. With both Chicago (5-6) and Detroit (4-7) playing better as of late, it is safe to say that the NFC North is far from being clinched.

If Seattle can get an early lead and take the home team fans out of the game, it certainly can emerge victorious this Sunday. Flip that around and let Peterson have a big game on the ground, the Seahawks could be back at .500, something they want to avoid given how crowded the NFC Wild Card has become. If the playoffs were to start today, the division winners would be Carolina (11-0), Arizona (9-2), Minnesota and Washington (5-6). The two NFC Wild Card teams would be Green Bay (7-4) and the Seahawks.

Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.