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NFL picks and predictions, Seahawks vs. Vikings 2015: Experts divided on key NFC matchup

If the season ended today, the Seahawks would travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in the NFC Wild Card round.

Sunday's matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings is shaping up to be a postseason preview. Just like everybody thought, right?

OK, maybe not. But if the playoffs started today, Seattle would travel to Minnesota for a wild card matchup. Given how well the NFC North-leading Vikings have played this season, that's far from an easy task.

One of the keys to this contest will be which team can control the game on the ground. The Vikings and Seahawks are first and second in the league in rushing yards per contest, respectively, though Seattle's run defense is better. The Seahawks are fifth in the league against the run, whereas the Vikings are 20th.

After spending the bulk of 2014 on the commissioner's exempt list, Adrian Peterson is once again the best running back in football. He leads the league in rushing yards and has scored eight touchdowns as well.

With hernia surgery expected to keep Marshawn Lynch sidelined for at least one month, Thomas Rawls has emerged as the Seahawks' leading back. The undrafted rookie is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and is just two weeks removed from a 209-yard, three-touchdown performance against the San Francisco 49ers.

In a lot of respects, the Seahawks and Vikings are rough equivalents of each other, as they both have strong running games and pulverizing defenses. But the biggest differences between the two clubs is at the quarterback position, and that could wind up being what decides this game.

Teddy Bridgewater is still going through some learning curves in his second season and is coming off a lousy performance against the Atlanta Falcons (174 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception). Russell Wilson, meanwhile, threw a season-high five touchdowns in the Seahawks' win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. But the win didn't come without bad news: tight end Jimmy Graham tore his patellar tendon and will miss the rest of the year.

But given how Graham has struggled to mesh with Wilson this season, his absence may not have as large of an impact on Seattle's offense as one would expect. He's only caught two touchdown passes in 11 games. All five of Wilson's touchdown passes last week were thrown to Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.

The experts are divided on what promises to be a tight game. CBS Sports' eight analysts are split right down the middle, while five of our eight experts at SB Nation expect the Seahawks to prevail.

Week 13 Ryan Van Bibber Stephen White Joel Thorman David Fucillo Danny Kelly Matt Ufford PFT Commenter OddsShark