- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - When the Minnesota Vikings grow up, they want to be just like the Seattle Seahawks.

Wait, maybe they already are.

Time will tell, of course, whether the Vikings can reach the level of dominance the Seahawks set in 2013 and 2014 on their way to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory and consecutive NFC championships.

Even in first place in the NFC North, the Vikings (8-3) have more improvements to make before they can be in that conversation.

This year, though, they’ve already surpassed the Seahawks (6-5) in the standings.

With Adrian Peterson again leading the NFL in rushing and fueling a low-turnover offense, plus a consistently stingy defense and solid special teams, the Vikings have been using a formula for success that’s similar to the Seahawks even if it’s an imperfect comparison.

“What I’ve tried to do is build an organization and an environment here that constitutes winning. We try to win. We try to play smart football. We try to play understanding the quick situations of the game,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.

“I never go into a season saying we’ll be 8-3 or we’ll be 3-8 or anything like that. I just kind of try to get our team to play the very best they can each Sunday. I think having a culture of winning helps.”

The Seahawks have certainly established that. They started 2-4, but they’ve averaged 33.3 points over their past three games to climb back into the playoff picture. The defense is still stacked, even if it’s been more vulnerable than in recent years.

“Half of their defense are game-wrecker type players. So we’ve got our hands full,” Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil said.

Here are some other things to know about the game:

PETERSON PRIMED: Peterson had 125-plus yards in three of the last four games, hitting his stride for the stretch run like he did during his NFL MVP season in 2012. The Seahawks have allowed the seventh-lowest average per rushing attempt in the league, but Peterson gained 158 yards on 29 carries last week at Atlanta, which is now sixth in the NFL in that category.

“It’s always a grind, especially around Week 13, but my body feels good, shoulders, legs mostly importantly,” Peterson said. “So, yeah, I feel pretty good. Blessed.”

REPLACING JIMMY GRAHAM: The Seahawks will play their first game without Jimmy Graham after the star tight end was lost for the rest of the season to a torn patellar tendon in his right knee. While questions have been raised about how well the three-time Pro Bowler fits with this offense, there’s no doubt he was a factor defenses had to account for.

Graham was on the field for nearly 78 percent of Seattle’s offensive plays this year since arriving in a trade with New Orleans. He had just two touchdowns after totaling 51 scores over his first five seasons in the league, but he was creating openings for other Seahawks receivers simply by being on the field.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Graham’s absence won’t change the scheme. Luke Willson, who has 12 catches for 152 yards and one score as the secondary tight end, will be the starter.

“Nothing I haven’t been through before,” Willson said, “and I’m ready to roll.”

MINNESOTA MEMORIES: Carroll will make his first visit with the Seahawks to Minnesota, where he served as defensive backs coach from 1985-89. He was hired by Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant.

“I just found him to be an extraordinary person with incredible insight and understanding of people and sports and the world,” Carroll said.

MAKING THEMSELVES AT HOME :The Vikings are 9-4 at the University of Minnesota’s open-air TCF Bank Stadium, the best winning percentage in NFL history for a team playing in a temporary venue. They’ll move downtown into fixed-roof U.S. Bank Stadium next year.

CENTURY MARK: Even with Marshawn Lynch sidelined for 4½ games so far this season, most recently because of an abdominal injury, the Seahawks have made the ground game a priority behind the bruising undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls.

By rushing for at least 100 yards as a team in 22 consecutive games, they’re tied with Carolina for the longest active streak in the NFL. That run, no pun intended, almost ended last week against Pittsburgh with exactly 100 yards on 27 attempts. The Vikings have held six of their 11 opponents under 100 yards rushing.

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Online:

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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