Vikings at Seahawks -- Week 9

Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle Wash. (turf, outdoors)

When: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)

Spread: Seahawks by 5

Records: Vikings (Overall: 5-3, NFC North: 1-0); Seahawks (Overall: 4-4, NFC West: 0-3)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Nov. 22, 2009: Vikings 35, Seahawks 9; Oct. 22, 2006: Vikings 31, Seahawks 13. Series record: Seahawks lead 6-5.

What matters: The biggest key to a Vikings' victory on Sunday will be their ability to stop Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is the league's second-leading rusher. The Vikings' defense, on the other hand, has had difficulty stopping the run in the previous three weeks (that included two losses). The Vikings have dropped to 16th in the NFL against the run (107.6 ypg) and Seattle will try to continue that trend.

“The best thing they are doing is running the football,” said DE Jared Allen on the Seahawks. “Marshawn Lynch, the last few games, he’s had over 100 yards. He’s a heck of a running back. We just have to ‘sound up’ our [tackling] fundamentals and get after the quarterback when we have the chance.”

Who matters: The first four weeks, QB Christian Ponder managed the offense and was instrumental in wins. The past four weeks, he has struggled and contributed to losses. Ponder needs to rediscover what worked for him early in the season, regain his confidence and play well again. The Vikings' running game is strong, but it will only go as far as the threat of a passing game will take pressure off of it. Opponents have been stuffing the box with eight- and nine-man fronts and blitzing to take away RB Adrian Peterson’s effectiveness. A stout Seahawks defense will be successful in that endeavor if Ponder can’t get the passing game going.

Key matchups: The Vikings' secondary will be without its best man cover man -- CB Chris Cook (broken arm) -- so CB Josh Robinson or CB A.J. Jefferson will be matching up against WR Sidney Rice. The Seahawks’ receiving corps has been battling injuries of late, and Rice (somewhat ironically), is the healthiest member of the unit. Rice had hip surgery while in Minnesota (playing only six games in 2010) and has had injury problems in Seattle (he played nine games in 2011), but he said he feels the best he has in some time and has returned to his 2009 form (when he had 83 catches, 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns in Minnesota.)

“We started out a little slow in the passing game due to our explosive running game,” Rice said. “The last few weeks we’ve been sprinkling in the passes and getting our passing game going. Hopefully, we can combine the two together and keeps things moving from there.”

Injuries of note: The Vikings lost Cook to a broken arm he suffered against the Buccaneers in Week 8. He had successful surgery this week and is expected to be out six-to-eight weeks. As of Thursday, TE John Carlson still had not passed the concussion protocol and likely won’t be ready for Sunday's game. The Vikings got back S Mistral Raymond, who had been out with a bone bruise on his ankle for six weeks. Coach Leslie Frazier said he would decide after Friday’s practice just how much Raymond would play on Sunday.

Inside stuff: The Vikings are tied for the NFL lead with only seven dropped passes this season. Until recently, Ponder has been very accurate -- he is ranked ninth in accuracy -- but certainly this stat is attributable to the fact that the Vikings haven’t thrown a lot downfield.

Connections: About the only Viking with Seattle connections is punter/holder Chris Kluwe, whom the Vikings claimed off waivers from Seattle in 2005. But Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was the defensive backs coach for Minnesota (1985-89) and OC Darrell Bevel held the same job with the Vikings from 2006-10. Rice signed as a free agent in Seattle after playing in Minnesota for four seasons (2007-10). LB Heath Farwell was special teams stalwart for Minnesota from 2005-10, before joining the Seahawks.

Stat you should know: Peterson leads the NFL with 775 rushing yards and Seahawks RB Lynch is right behind him with 757 yards.

Vikings K Blair Walsh is tied for the league lead with 31 kickoff touchbacks. That's a good things since Seahawks RB Leon Washington (29.8) ranks second in the NFC in average kickoff return (29.8 yard) -- behind WR Percy Harvin (35.7). Harvin is tied for the NFL lead with 60 receptions. LB Chad Greenway leads the league with 81 tackles. The Vikings rank secnd in the NFL in first-down rushing defense, allowing only 3.44 yards per rush. That stat will be tested Sunday in Seattle.

Record watch: In the Vikings’ last game, Peterson passed Robert Smith for the team record of most 100-yard rushing games (30) and he has a chance to pass him for career runs of at least 50 yards. He achieved his 12th in the game against the Buccaneers, which is tied for the most in franchise history with Smith.

Looking ahead: The Vikings return home to host the suddenly rising Detroit Lions in Week 10 before a Week 11 bye.

Prediction: Vikings 17, Seahawks 14

For more Vikings news and notes, follow Joe Oberle on Twitter @CBSVikings and @joeoberle.