This week, the favored New York Giants play host to the rapidly-maturing Seattle Seahawks in what figures to be an important game for both teams. The Seahawks have fallen two games behind San Francisco in the NFC West, but have seen a notable improvement on offense since receiver Sidney Rice has been on the field the last two weeks. After losing in Week 1 to the Washington Redskins, the New York Giants have reeled off three straight wins to pull even with the Redskins for first place in the competitive NFC East.
Though they have had shaky moments on the road the last two weeks in Philadelphia and Arizona, the Giants seized control of both games in the fourth quarter to snatch improbable victories. Quarterback Eli Manning threw six touchdowns in those games with no interceptions, and his steady play has been largely responsible for the Giants’ quick start to the season. Manning has developed strong chemistry with star wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, throwing him 13 touchdowns in their last 17 games. Nicks victimized the Cardinals’ young cornerbacks repeatedly last week, torching them for 162 yards and the game-winning touchdown. I think frequent double coverages are the only way to slow him down, as he is one of the top wide receivers in the league.
Tarvaris Jackson has endured a rough start to his career as a Seahawk, suffering from woeful offensive line play, a rushing attack that ranks second to last in the league, and a general lack of rhythm on offense. However, last week against the Atlanta Falcons he threw for a career-high 319 yards and 3 touchdowns, while not being sacked once. Given adequate time and protection to look for receivers down the field, Jackson looked like (is he really about to say this?) a GOOD NFL quarterback. He lead three touchdown drives in the second half, and excelled in the hurry-up offense the Seahawks featured once they had fallen behind early on in the game. I’d expect to see more hurry-up offense against the Giants to try to dictate the tempo of the game.
One thing the Seahawks did well last week was spreading the ball to out on offense. Seven players had at least three catches, with rookie receiver Doug Baldwin leading the way by snagging 5 of Jackson’s 25 completions. If they don’t fall behind early this week and can try to run the ball, they might be able to keep the Giants defense off-balance by mixing runs with passes to varying receivers (this is the general goal of the Seahawks’ “West-Coast” style offense). Look for Jackson to quickly hit the open receiver regardless of who it might happen to be.
One area of concern for the Seahawk passing game will be the potency of the pass rush generated by the New York defensive line. Lead by Pro Bowlers Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, as well as second-year player Jason Pierre-Paul (who has 4.5 sacks in 4 games this season), the Giants boast one of the league’s best pass-rushing defensive lines. Their matchup against the inexperienced Seahawks is definitely in their favor, and might be the matchup that ultimately dooms the Seahawks.
When the two teams met last season in Seattle, 48 points were scored, but just 7 were scored by the Seahawks. I expect there to be a similar amount of points scored again this year, but in a much closer game. Though the Giants are favored, I expect the Seahawks to make things interesting in the second half of the game and to stay relatively within striking range. A good game for Seattle might not be enough to get the win, so the Seahawks will need to have their best game of the season if they want to return home with a better record than 1-4.
About the Author
Written by Erik Olsoy
Erik was born in Columbus, Ohio during the only Ohio State football victory over Michigan in the 1980s, but moved to Washington state and grew up there. His loyalty to Ohio State remains strong, but his strongest allegiances developed toward Seattle sports. Though he recently graduated from Boston College, he has not yet been converted to the ways of New England Sportsdom, and only roots for the Red Sox against the Yankees because the Yankees are the root of all evil.