There are a lot of interesting subplots to this week’s Vikings-Seahawks matchup – the NFL’s two leading rushers (Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch) go toe-to-toe, a pair of up-and-coming QBs (Christian Ponder and Russell Wilson) look to keep progressing, two of the NFL’s best pass-rushers (Jared Allen and Chris Clemons) go against two of the NFL’s best LTs (Matt Kalil and Russell Okung), etc.
We detailed those three as well as five additional storylines on Wednesday morning.
But one subplot we didn’t mention that is certainly noteworthy is the matchup between the Vikings and Seahawks special teams groups. All NFL clubs take special teams seriously, but some groups are consistently among the NFL’s best. In recent seasons, the Vikings and Seahawks could be included in this group.
There’s no question Mike Priefer has made a difference in the Vikings special teams performnace since he joined Leslie Frazier’s staff prior to the 2011 season. Percy Harvin has continued to be arguably the NFL’s top kickoff returner and K Blair Walsh has made a quick and profound impact in his rookie season. Seattle Special Teams Coordinator Brian Schneider is now in his 3rd season on Pete Carroll’s staff, and under his guidence the Seahawks have led the NFL in blocked kicks the past two seasons.
Both coordinator’s have found success once again in 2012, and it’s making a difference for their teams. The special teams group that can outperform the other in Sunday’s game will contribute significantly to the outcome of the game. It will be a fun subplot to watch.
Here are a few facts about how the Vikings and Seahawks special teams have fared so far in 2012…
– The Vikings are one of just three teams to register both a kickoff return TD (Percy Harvin) and a punt return TD (Marcus Sherels) this season.
– The Vikings rank #2 (25.3) and the Seahawks rank #9 (23.6) in average starting position after a kickoff.
– Harvin ranks #2 (35.7) in the NFL and Seattle returner Leon Washington ranks #5 (29.8) in the NFL in kickoff return average.
– Walsh is tied for 1st in the NFL with 31 touchbacks.
– Seattle ranks #1 in the NFL in opponents average starting position after kickoff (19.4).
– Seattle ranks #4 in opponents kickoff return average (20.6).
– The Vikings rank #7 in opponents punt return average (6.2).
Tags: Blair Walsh, Mike Priefer, Percy Harvin
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