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True contender: Seahawks stomp Vikings in Minnesota

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The Seattle Seahawks (7-5) look like a Super Bowl contender again. And the Vikings (8-4) don't look ready to beat quality competition yet. Here's what we learned from Seattle's 38-7 win:

1. No quarterback is playing better than Russell Wilson. He essentially pitched a perfect game, with his outstanding stats (274 yards passing and three TDs on 27 attempts, 51 yards rushing and a score) telling half the story. Wilson combined confident play from the pocket with quick decisions and vertical throws. He also made Vikings defenders look silly while scrambling. Wilson has 11 TDs and no picks in his last three games.

2. Vikings fans can console themselves that their defense was missing its best three players. Safety Harrison Smith (knee) and Anthony Barr (groin) quickly joined Linval Joseph (foot) on the sideline. But that doesn't explain why the Vikings' offense didn't score a point and was held to 125 yards total. Teddy Bridgewater received little protection and threw a killer pick before halftime. He can't carry an offense. Adrian Peterson was held to 18 yards. Minnesota's offense was overwhelmed at every position.

3. It wouldn't surprise us if Seattle made it back to the Super Bowl because its young players are all peaking at the right time. Rookie receiver Tyler Lockett was a huge difference maker as a returner and receiver, with seven catches for 90 yards. Running back Thomas Rawls, who went over 100 yards again, is a star. New starting tight end Luke Willson capably replaced Jimmy Graham with two difficult grabs early. New starting cornerback DeShawn Shead looked fantastic. Rookie pass rusher Frank Clark is coming on strong with two sacks. This group is only getting better. 

4. Now 8-4, the Vikings have been blown out twice at home in the last three weeks. They remain in great position for a playoff spot, but there's little reason to believe they can win tough games like next week's contest in Arizona. Minnesota was outgained 433-125. This was one of the biggest mismatches we watched all season.

5. Cordarrelle Patterson's celebration for his kickoff return touchdown started at the 40-yard line, contained five different parts, and occured with the score 35-0. It was glorious.  

6. Seattle's offensive line has dramatically improved over the last month and Wilson is helping them by making quick decisions more often. The Seahawks' top three yardage games of the season? Their last three. At 7-5, the Seahawks should be motivated to win out and possibly pass the Vikings in the wild-card race. That way they could open the playoffs as a road team against the NFC East champs.

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