"Seven weeks in and look where we are. "Who would have thunk it?" Those were the words from Pete Carroll after last Sunday's 37-23 win by the Seattle Seahawks (4-3) over the Los Angeles Chargers in response to a question about being in first place in the NFC West. Those words could ring true as well for their opponent on Sunday, the New York Giants (6-1), who are truly revitalized under the leadership of first-year head coach Brian Daboll. These two teams will meet at Lumen Field in Seattle for what should be the most interesting game of Week 8.
New York's resilience can't be underestimated as the Giants stopped Jacksonville at the one-yard line as time expired to secure a 23-17 win over the Jaguars. With the win, the Giants matched their best start to a season since 2008. Daniel Jones completed 19 of 30 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown and added 107 rushing yards in 11 attempts and a touchdown with his legs. Saquon Barkley rushed for 110 yards on 24 attempts as he imposed his will on the Jacksonville defense in the fourth quarter. The defense allowed 452 yards, but it didn't cost them too often because they held the Jaguars to just two scores in five red zone trips.
Last Sunday, Seattle put together a complete performance that resulted in a comfortable win against the Chargers. The offense was methodical, using its 13 personnel a lot after DK Metcalf went out with a patellar tendon injury. Marquise Goodwin stepped up in a big way, with four receptions for 67 yards and two touchdowns to replace the lost production from Metcalf. Kenneth Walker III continued to build his case for Offensive Rookie of the Year as he rushed for 168 yards on 23 attempts and two touchdowns. The defense did a great job of taking away the running game of the Chargers by holding them to 53 yards on 15 attempts. They also kept forcing turnovers, which offset the two turnovers by the offense, and got off the field on third down as they held Los Angeles to 5-of-15 in that situation.
New York (6-1) at Seattle (4-3)
Three Things to Watch
1. New York offense
This will be a tough test for Jones because the Giants will have to deal with plenty of crowd noise and some more typical Seattle weather, as some potential rain and wind gusts are always a possibility. The offense must stay on or ahead of schedule this week, which means avoiding false start penalties and controlling the Seahawks' pass rush.
Getting Barkley, the ball at least 20 times is another critical key to winning this week. It will allow Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka to control the clock and keep the crowd out of the game. In terms of passing, Jones must be patient and take what is available rather than forcing a ball unnecessarily. If Jones gets impatient throwing the ball, it will play into the hands of the Seahawks secondary led by Tariq Woolen, Quandre Diggs, and Coby Bryant, three playmakers that can flip a game quickly by forcing turnovers.
Of note, Jones just lost a weapon when the Giants traded 2021 first-rounder Kadarius Toney to Kansas City on Thursday for a 2023 third-round compensatory pick and a 2023 sixth-round pick. It will be interesting to see how the wide receiver room plays this week. Toney didn't live up to his full potential in New York, so this trade could be a good old-fashioned addition by subtraction.
2. How will the Seahawks' defense deal with the Giants' offense?
The Seahawks' defense will have a similar challenge to what they faced two weeks ago in the Arizona game, since they'll be dealing with another mobile quarterback. Jones isn't nearly as dynamic a runner as Kyler Murray, but third among quarterbacks in rushing with 343 yards on 5.9 yards per carry. They need to keep him in the pocket and create plenty of pressure all afternoon long.
Now, dealing with a running back like Barkley is a different animal because he can take over a game on his own. Thus, it is important for this defense to play sound football with everyone doing their individual job to avoid giving up too many explosive plays. Limiting the Giants on third down is important this week because the last thing the Seattle defense needs is to be on the field for upwards of 40 minutes.
3. Can the Seahawks' offense handle an aggressive Giants defense?
Geno Smith should see plenty of aggressive defensive looks since New York defensive coordinator Wink Martindale loves to put opposing quarterbacks under duress in a variety of ways. Expect to see plenty of eight- and nine-man boxes, with the question being how often Martindale will leave them all at the line of scrimmage on every play.
The challenge that Walker provides at running back is a unique one with his power and speed. The rookie took the top off the Chargers' defense with a 74-yard touchdown with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter to seal the game. Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron won't hesitate to feed Walker the ball this week since the Giants allow a league-worst 5.7 yards per carry. This will open the passing game for Smith to get timely completions to Tyler Lockett, Goodwin, Will Dissly, and others as the game unfolds.
Seattle must start fast, as it did in Los Angeles when the Seahawks led for 53 of the 60 minutes. That will ignite their home crowd and, more importantly, force New York to ride the arm of Jones in a comeback scenario needing multiple scores. The Giants have shown great resolve in finding ways to rally and win games, but sooner rather than later, it will catch up to them. The Seahawks' offense will start fast enough to propel them to their fifth win of the season as they will capitalize on a key mistake by the Giants and the fact that it's their second straight long road trip after playing at Jacksonville last week.
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Giants 23
– Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Contributor Network.
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