Coming off a loss against the Colts on Monday Night Football, the New York Giants will head to Seattle to face the defending Super Bowl Champions. The last time these two teams faced off, the Seahawks took care of business at Metlife Stadium in a 23-0 drubbing of the Giants.
Quarterbacks: Eli Manning had nightmares all offseason as he thought about how things went down against the Seahawks in Week 15 of last year. He totaled 5 interceptions, two of which fell in the hands of Richard Sherman. With Eli under the helm, the Giants struggled to move the ball and were not able to generate much offensively. This year, Eli has been much more efficient with the ball and is throwing much less picks than a year ago. Over his last six games, Eli Manning has thrown 13 TDs compared to only one INT. People are often quick to throw Manning under the bus but so far this year he has a 94.9 QB rating. That is nearly 13 points higher than his career rating of 82.0. In fact, Eli Manning’s rating is higher than yours truly, Russell Wilson. Wilson is currently sitting at a rating of 93.1 after his rough game last Sunday. The Giants offensive scheme has changed this year as they have gone to a 3 wideout set on the majority of their plays. By doing this, they are able to keep Manning upright in the pocket and let him get rid of the ball quickly. Expect to see a heavy dose of blitzes from the Seahawks as they attempt to get more pressure on the QB and build on the sack production they have had the last two weeks.
Running Back: It remains to be seen whether RB Rashad Jennings will find the field this weekend. He has not played since week 5 due to an ailing knee. The ground game had been successful for the Giants over the first few weeks of the year, but after losing Jennings they have failed to sustain the production. Rookie Andre Williams from Boston College will most likely start this Sunday. Since taking over the starting role for Jennings, the rookie has only averaged 2.80 YPC and is coming off his worst game as a professional where he ran the ball 12 times for 22 yards. The Seahawks continue to stop the run and they should have no problem doing so this weekend. Seahawks are 4th in the NFL allowing only 83 YPG. They are also sitting atop the NFL allowing only 3.2 YPC to opponents. The Seahawks should be able to stop the run and that will force the Giants to become a one-dimensional team.
Receivers/Tight Ends: Victor Cruz went down for the year three weeks ago with a torn patella tendon. Cruz was considered to be the heart and soul of the team and to see a player of his caliber go down was definitely hard to watch. Rookie Odell Beckham Jr. has stepped up in his place and is coming off his best game as a pro. Granted, most the yards came in garbage time, he piled up 156 yards on 8 receptions. In just 4 games this season, Odell Beckham Jr. has gone on to score 3 TDs. He does not have great size but has some serious speed and an amazing set of hands. Much like he did against rookie Kelvin Benjamin, Richard Sherman will shadow Beckham. Starting opposite of Beckham is Rueben Randle. Randle is not going to burn by the safeties and get into the second level but he is a solid possession receiver who will be targeted on key third down situations. Tharold Simon has played excellent filling in for Byron Maxwell. Another solid game from him and he may end up taking over as the starter full time. Tight Ends have torched the Seahawks this year and the Giants will attempt to get Larry Donnell more involved. He has a very large frame (6’6”) and the Giants like to use him down in the red zone. He already has 5 touchdowns this year and the way the Seahawks have defended that position, it would not be surprising to see him get another one this year. With Kam Chanellor coming back from injury, it will be his top priority to prevent Donnell from making any big plays.
(Here is rookie wideout Odell Beckham Jr. making one handed catches before MNF last week)
Offensive Line: The Giants have done a decent job keeping Manning up right as they have only allowed 16 sacks. Two names to look out for this weekend will be Will Beatty and Justin Pugh. Will Beaty is one of the best Left Tackles in the league and he has played like it thus far this season. It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks Cliff Avril this weekend. Fans should also expect to see a heavy dose of Bruce Irvin as he continues his excellent play. Will Beatty vs. the Seahawks edge rushers is in my opinion, is the key matchup of the game. If the Seahawks are able to get the quick releases off the edge and pressure Eli into some bad decisions early on, fans might get the blowout victory that they have been waiting for. Justin Pugh is a second year rookie out of Syracuse and has played strong early on in his career. I still think that this is a matchup that the Seahawks can exploit. Brandon Mebane, who has played so great this year, is going to need to get some pressure on the inside in order to open up lanes from blitzing linebackers. Im looking for Kevin Pierre Louis to enjoy a coming out party this weekend as this is a matchup that suits his playing style.
Defensive Line: Coming into the season, the Giants were expected to have one of the best defensive lines in the league. Halfway through the year, they have not lived up to the hype. Through 8 games, they have only been able to get to the quarterback 14 times. When you have players Jason Pierre Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka, you would think they would be able to be more productive in the sack category. With all that being said, when the Seahawks played the Rams, they allowed more sacks one one drive than the Rams had gotten all season. With Unger back in the mix now and other key members of the O-Line returning, Russell Wilson should be able to stand in the pocket and throw on the depleted secondary of the New York Giants.
Secondary: After signing Super Bowl Champion Walter Thurmond, it was believed that this was a secondary that matched up with the Seahawks very well. Unfortunately, the Giants have been riddled with injuries as they have now placed 3 members of their starting secondary on IR. Thurmond, McBride, and Amakumura were all supposed to be key contributors to the team this season. They tried to imitate the Seahawks by going after large corners and big safeties but it just has not worked out for them. They just signed Chykie Brown as a free agent in hope that he can come in and start this weekend for them . Russell Wilson should be able to pick apart this defense. He needs a bounce back game after his performance against the Raiders last weekend and there is not better team to do it against than the New York Giants.