*Crackle* The overhead speaker comes to life and the captain says to the passengers “On the right side of the plane you can make out the Statue of Liberty and the new Freedom Tower. A little further afield you can see the Empire state building. To the left you can see Central Park. Welcome to New York City and I hope you, the Seattle Seahawks, enjoy your stay here”. Yes…yes we will!
The Seahawks come in licking their wounds after getting edged out in San Francisco. They didn’t play a particularly great game against San Francisco, which you can read about in my last article. This Sunday should prove different for Seattle, no more messing around, no more time to waste, the here is now. They come in with nothing but business on their mind against the Giants…and what better place to do business than in New York?
The Giants don’t come in with any hopes of playing beyond week 17, they have been eliminated from the playoffs. But they do come into the game looking for a sense of pride. Losing 6 games out of the gate and then winning 5 out of the next 7 tells us that they have figured something out. But whatever it was, it was too late. That doesn’t mean that they are going to roll over and hand the Seahawks a win. Several Giant players are in contract years and desperately need to put together good numbers. And if you can’t make it to the playoffs what better notch in your cap than saying you beat a playoff bound team and one that is potentially the best in the NFL.
The Giants bring an anemic offense to the field this Sunday. Its not that they don’t have good players, they do. They have Eli Manning (you know the ‘Manning’ pedigree is very good), Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle shoring up their passing game. Andre Brown has rushed for 11 TDs in last 14 games. But going back to Eli, he hasn’t felt much love from his offensive line this year, he has been sacked 32 times going into this game, not to be out done by his 20 interceptions. I am sorry New York, those aren’t good numbers to be waving around in front of the face of a seething Seattle defense. It’s kind of like waving the red cape in front of a Spanish bull, it just agitates them. I have a feeling that Seattle’s defensive line may be salivating just a little bit over those numbers. If Eli doesn’t have a lot of time because of pressure and he feels like he needs to make something happen he may be throwing up a lot of jump balls. I sense a couple of interceptions coming our way this weekend.
New York’s defense on the other hand has not been all that bad. Their rushing defense has held up pretty nicely. They have played against 8 of the top 10 RBs in the league going into this game. To this point only one, Ryan Matthews, has crossed the 100 yard barrier and just barely. And only one, Knowshon Moreno, has averaged more than 5 yards/carry. So Marshawn Lynch may be in for a long, hard day. So here is where I make my request. Mr. Bevell can we please implement the read option one or two times in this game? Heck, we don’t even have to let Russell keep the ball, just give the illusion that he might keep it. Keep the defensive ends honest, make them think about where they are in space. I haven’t run an offense before but I suspect this will allow for other kinds of plays to open up and ultimately be more successful.
The Giants defensive line features Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul and their secondary has Antrel Rolle, but I believe they can be exploited. Although Justin Tuck has had 6 sacks in the last two games alone, and he is one to watch, the defensive secondary has given up completion rates of 75% to the last two quarterbacks they have faced. Russell Wilson is already 7th overall in completion rate at 64%, I expect this number should be higher by game’s end. Tate, Kearse and Baldwin should continue to find seams in the defense and exploit their secondary for big gains. Overall I expect our passing stats to be very good by the end of the day.
Seattle enters this game with Percy Harvin still on the shelf, as of this writing. KJ Wright is out indefinitely, with it he takes 80 tackles. Zach Miller (rib injury) and Brandon Browner (groin) have not practiced this week due to injuries. Walter Thurmond continues to serve his suspension. I know I keep saying this but if this team could ever keep their players healthy for any length of time imagine how this team, which is already balanced and deep, would be playing. Boggles the mind doesn’t it?
My last request is that we reign in our penalties. I know, I know, that is like asking your child not to spill grape juice on a white rug. Can we at least cut them in half this week…heck, I’ll even take six penalties as a ‘baby step’. And no penalties on long offensive plays, a la Lynch’s run last week that was negated by Michael Robinson. Here are the sobering facts: we are second only to Tampa Bay in number of penalties (104 vs 106) and number of yards (976 vs 100). And we are second in net yards (penalties for + penalties against) to Houston (-268 vs -280 yards). This has to be cleaned up before we enter the playoffs and we start playing teams where the margin of victory may be razor thin.
Again this week there are numerous intangibles at work against Seattle, from the hostile crowd, to the long flight, the early start and the Giants needing to ‘earn respect’. Add to this that Seattle may also be a little distracted checking out the venue, the city and the accommodations as they start dreaming of a return trip in February. Is it too early to start asking the Priceline Negotiator or the Travelocity Gnome to get to work? Not if the Seahawks start spreading the news that they are here for some ‘Giant’ business and are primed for a hostile takeover. Go Hawks!