Two teams whose seasons are going in opposite directions will get together at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The Seattle Seahawks (3-2) are riding a two-game winning streak and come in off their bye week with a nice surge of confidence. For the New York Giants (1-5) they are coming into this game looking to build off their 23-10 win over Denver last Sunday night.
The win over the Broncos was a definite shocker as the Giants have lost their share of tight games, battled injuries and locker room dysfunction. Starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been reinstated for this week’s game against the Seahawks after being suspended for leaving the team. However, it remains to be seen if Rodgers-Cromartie can behave himself and lose his mind on the field once adversity strikes on game day.
New York did a nice job last Sunday night in Denver of creatively using their limited offensive resources against the NFL’s No. 1 defense. Eli Manning completed 11 of 19 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. Orleans Darkwa jump-started the running game with 117 yards on 21 carries. Rookie tight end Evan Engram had a big game with five receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown, Jason Pierre-Paul led the way on defense with three sacks. The Giants also forced the Broncos into three turnovers and held their offense in check all game. This type of balanced production is the best chance for New York to win games the rest of the season.
Seattle at New York
Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 22 at 4:25 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Seattle -5.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Can the Seahawks’ offense start fast and impose its will on the Giants?
For Seattle to legitimately make a run in the playoffs, it must do a better job of getting off to a faster start in games no matter where they are played. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and the rest of the staff have had two weeks of self-scouting the entire offensive performance through five games. A great place to jump-start the offense will be turning quarterback Russell Wilson (above, right) loose in the passing game. Wilson has been a culprit as far as the slow starts offensively as accuracy has been an issue with him trying to be too fine with his passes. For example, when targeting Jimmy Graham, the ball needs to be thrown where only Graham can get it, especially in the red zone. This little adjustment by Wilson would make the Seahawks’ offense even more effective. Also, quick passes to generate first downs in the opening series will get the Seattle offense in rhythm and set up the running game in an attempt to put the Giants’ defense on its heels early.
2. Giants’ offense vs. Seahawks’ defense
Balance is going to be a key for New York even with all of the injuries to the receiving corps. Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall are out for the season, while Sterling Shepard missed last week’s game because of an ankle injury and is listed as questionable heading into Sunday. First-round draft pick Evan Engram is going to need to continually show that he can be a dangerous threat in the passing game for Eli Manning. Look for Engram to get the majority of the targets as his combination of size (6-3, 236) and speed will test Seattle’s linebackers in coverage.
The Giants also need to commit to trying to run the ball as the Seahawks have been somewhat vulnerable (127.2 rushing ypg allowed, 19th in the NFL) in that respect. Orleans Darkwa could get the bulk of the carries after a strong showing last week against Denver, but rookie Wayne Gallman and possibly veteran Shane Vereen figures to be in the mix as well. Seattle is 29th in the league when it comes to stuffing the run, according to Football Outsiders, so New York should have some success on the ground if it can build off of last week’s effort (148 yards, 4.8 ypc) against the league’s No. 1-ranked rushing defense.
3. Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls
Lacy and Rawls have underachieved this season, to say the least, as the duo has combined for 98 rushing yards on 38 carries. That level of production is going to set the Seattle offense up for a long season if improvement doesn’t happen fast. New York will pin its ears back along the defensive front and dare the Seahawks to try and pound the ball. If Lacy and Rawls can find a way to get to the second level of the Giants’ defense, there should be some big plays to be had. Now, on the other side of the equation if Lacy and Rawls struggle to get going then this game will be very close deep into the second half.
This game has the feel of a comfortable win for the Seahawks as the Legion of Boom should be able to have a field day against New York’s young, unproven wide receivers. Turnovers may help break this game open for Seattle too. Takeaways and three-and-outs will allow the Seahawks to flip field position, setting up the offense for success. Seattle makes it three wins in a row as the Giants come back down to earth following last week’s stunning victory in Denver.
Prediction: Seahawks 24, Giants 10
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball. Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottWhittum.