Saturday, December 14, 2013
W2W4: Giants vs. Seahawks
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
The 5-8 New York Giants host the 11-2 Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in a 1 p.m. ET game. Here are four things to watch for in the game between a Giants team that has no playoff hopes and a Seahawks team that looks like a favorite to be back at MetLife Stadium for the Super Bowl in early February.
Rough week for Eli? The Seahawks have the No. 1 pass defense in the league, allowing just 175.6 passing yards per game. Eli Manning and the Giants' passing game have struggled through a rough season, averaging just 234 pass yards per game. Led by 6-foot-3 cornerback Richard Sherman and 6-3 safety Kam Chancellor, the Seattle secondary is big and physical and should beat up the Giants' receivers all game. The ability of Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz to withstand that beating will determine whether Manning can find success downfield. It would qualify as one of the week's larger upsets.
Look out for Lynch: Seattle has the No. 3 rushing offense in the league, mainly because of monster running back Marshawn Lynch. Giants defensive linemen spoke in relative awe this week of Lynch as a running back it takes a whole team to tackle. "It takes more than one person to bring him down," Cullen Jenkins said. "You've got to get 11 guys to the ball. You can't just leave one person hanging out to dry to try to bring him down himself, because he's a tough back, strong, fast, quick. He'll make you miss." After allowing 144 yards on 40 carries to the Chargers last week, the Giants have been paying extra attention to the run fits for their linebackers and safeties this week. It'll be more important than ever. One thing to note: Of the top 12 rushers in the league so far this year, Lynch will be the 10th the Giants have faced. (And next week, Reggie Bush will be the 11th. The only one they won't face this year is San Francisco's Frank Gore.) The Giants are 11th in the league in run defense, allowing 105.4 rush yards per game.
Road worriers: If you've seen the Seahawks on TV this year, chances are it's been a prime-time home game, and they've looked fantastic. The Seahawks' average scoring margin in their home games, of which they have won all six, is 18.7. But in their seven road games (in which they are 5-2), it's just 5.7. So they don't always look unbeatable on the road, where they've lost in Indianapolis and San Francisco and won by less than a touchdown in Carolina, Houston and St. Louis.
Wide receiver matchups: Seattle's Percy Harvin is still injured and will miss this game, so the big wide receiver weapons with whom the Giants' defensive backs will have to contend are Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate. Keep an eye on Tate, the fourth-year wide receiver out of Notre Dame. He's eligible for free agency after this season, and the Giants could be looking for help at that position, especially if Nicks leaves as expected.