Seahawks vs. Giants: Breaking Down Seattle's Game Plan

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Seahawks vs. Giants: Breaking Down Seattle's Game Plan
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks head to the Meadowlands and MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Giants in their final road game of the season. After losing in San Francisco last week, Seattle would love to get a win in this game and move one step closer to securing home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Expect the Seahawks to have a creative game plan ready to help them get back into the win column. 

 

The Competitive Edge

NFL Rankings for Seahawks and Giants
Seattle Seahawks Category New York Giants
2nd Scoring Offense 10th
3rd Total Offense 28th
21st Passing Offense 16th
1st Yards Per Attempt 14th
3rd Rushing Offense 27th
7th Yards Per Carry 28th
3rd Turnover Differential 29th
2nd Scoring Defense 21st
1st Total Defense 10th
1st Passing Defense 15th
1st Yards Per Attempt 6th
14th Rushing Defense 11th
18th Yards Per Carry 6th

ESPN.com

The Seahawks remain statistically one of the league's best teams despite the loss last week. Offensively, their rushing and scoring stats have dipped a bit recently, but both are still among the NFL's best. 

Given their record, the quality of the Giants defense might come as a surprise to some people. They are still a good defensive football team, especially against the run. The only major statistical weakness would be in points allowed, but that has more to do with the team's offensive turnovers than the defense.   

 

Seattle's Offense vs. New York's Defense

Quick-Hitting Runs

Seattle's running game has been bogged down in recent weeks. After this week's tape study, it is clear that the Seahawks need to get back to using their quick-hitting running plays with running back Marshawn Lynch.

The most basic of these is the inside zone run where quarterback Russell Wilson is in the shotgun. This play is often confused with the read-option, but there is no option element, and the defensive end isn't left unblocked. 

NFL Rewind

The key element of these running plays is that they only ask the offensive linemen to maintain their blocks for a minimal amount of time. In recent weeks, Seattle's offensive line has been plagued by slow-developing run plays where players lose position on their defenders. Quick-hitting plays like this should allow them to maintain their blocks long enough for Lynch to get through the hole. 

NFL Rewind

 

Look for the Tight Ends 

One of the few weakness of the Giants defense is the ability of their linebackers to adequately cover tight ends. Tight ends have caught eight touchdowns against the Giants already this season and have amassed some healthy yardage totals on a regular basis. 

Tight Ends vs. The Giants
Week Team Receptions Yards TDs
1 Dallas 8 70 2
2 Denver 7 52 1
3 Carolina 4 54 0
4 Kansas City 7 91 1
5 Philadelphia 5 85 1
6 Chicago 6 68 0
7 Minnesota 4 36 0
8 Philadelphia 3 22 0
10 Oakland 2 22 0
11 Green Bay 3 44 0
12 Dallas 5 42 2
13 Washington 5 54 1
14 San Diego 4 50 0

Pro Football Reference

The Seahawks have a pair of weapons at the tight end position that can be used to exploit this weakness. Both Zach Miller and rookie Luke Willson have shown they can be reliable weapons in the passing game, and they should combine to put up some good stats on Sunday. 

 

Seattle's Defense vs. New York's Offense

Bring at Least Five Pass-Rushers at Every Opportunity

Giants quarterback Eli Manning hasn't played particularly well this season, but he has been effective when given adequate protection from his offensive line. Getting pressure on Manning is the key to stopping the Giants offense.

Eli Manning's Pressure Profile
Pressure Com. % Yds / Att. TD INT Sk QB Rating
No pressure 63.0 7.4 10 13 0 78.3
Plays under pressure 50.6 6.8 6 7 33 66.7
When not blitzed 61.3 7.5 12 11 21 82.6
When blitzed 53.5 6.5 4 9 12 58.2

Pro Football Focus

Manning also hasn't been able to take advantage of the holes in coverage that blitzing typically creates. He has been unable to punish teams for blitzing, and the Seahawks need to use this to their advantage.

Perhaps this will be the week where linebacker Bruce Irvin gets to rush the passer like he did as a rookie when he was still a defensive end. 

 

Cover The Center Of The Field

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), 152 of Manning's pass attempts have been thrown less than 10 yards downfield and in the center of the field. That is more than a third of his total passing attempts, and that rate far exceeds all other areas of the field. 

This isn't just limited to backs and tight ends, either. The bulk of those passes have been thrown to wide receivers. The Giants' offensive scheme does a good job against teams that play a lot of zone coverage by getting wide receivers matched up against linebackers in the middle of the field. 

The Seahawks need to pay extra attention to this area of the field this week and are likely to play a lot of man coverage underneath to avoid those types of mismatches.

 

Game Notes and Facts (via Pro Football Reference and NFL.com)

Predict the Outcome

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Seattle's magic number for clinching both the NFC West and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs is currently two. 

If the Seahawks keep winning, it is possible for them to bookend a six-game stretch with games at MetLife Stadium, since the Super Bowl will be played there this year. The four games in the middle would all be played at CenturyLink Field.  

The Giants lead the all-time series between these two teams, 9-6. 

The last time these two teams played, the Seahawks went on the road and knocked off the Giants, 36-25, back in October of 2011. 

After losing their first six games of the season, the Giants have gone 5-2. The Giants are also 3-1 at home over that same span. 

Manning is last in the NFL with 20 interceptions. Wilson is second with just seven. 

Manning has been sacked 33 times this season, which is just one more than Wilson.

The Seahawks are currently 5-2 on the road this season. They have never won six road games in a single season in their franchise history. 

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