I mention Hakeem Nicks as needing a strong game, but in reality, the entire receiving corps needs to step up this week against the league’s top-ranked passing defense, a.k.a. the “Legion of Boom.”
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, the Seahawks’ starting cornerbacks, both have positive overall grades.
Sherman, who has allowed 56 percent of the passes thrown against him for 448 yards, has only given up 149 yards after the catch and just two touchdowns all season.
Per Pro Football Focus’ weekly rankings, Sherman is currently rated as the 15th-best cornerback in the NFL with a 7.5 rating.
The lesser of the two evils, based on the stats, appears to be Maxwell, who has been filling in for the injured Brandon Browner.
Maxwell has allowed 58.8 percent of the passes thrown against him to be completed for 222 yards and one touchdown, with 34 yards coming after the catch.
All season long, the only Giants receiver who seems to get open with any kind of consistency is Victor Cruz, and this despite the fact that he’s often drawn double coverage.
It sure would be nice if Nicks, whose contract season has been one of the strangest in recent memory, could build on last week’s five-catch, 135-yard performance (51 yards of which came on a Hail Mary reception that fell about six yards short of the goal line).
One thing that could work in the Giants' favor is the Seahawks’ physical style that almost certainly will put a bull’s-eye on their collective backs.
The Seahawks defensive backs have been flagged for pass interference 11 times this season, per NFL Game Statistics and Information System (membership required).
They’ve also been flagged for defensive holding nine times.
However, Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said Thursday that his team can’t rely on the officials to police the Seahawks on every play:
I think the biggest thing is you just have to prepare them to recognize what they’re in for and that is from the moment the game starts to the moment until the game ends, guys are going to be up in your face, grabbing you, holding you...If you think they’re going to be called and expect that to be the solution to the problem, you’re going to be sadly mistaken. They’ve perfected the art and you just have to keep fighting and battling and not give up and you’ll have your chance to make plays.
The good news is that Gilbride and company apparently have spotted some weaknesses in Seattle’s coverage that they think they can use to their advantage.
One thing that stands out when watching Seattle's defense is that the Seahawks often put eight men in the box while relying on their corners to jam receivers coming off the line of scrimmage.
“Some of the things they do should give us some chances,” Gilbride said. “Our guys are always clamoring for one-on-one opportunities.
"You’re going to get more than your fair share of one-on-one opportunities to win against some pretty good coverage and guys that play very physical.”