The New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks meet at Qwest Field in Seattle this Sunday to determine whether either team is going to be fighting for the NFC Super Bowl spot in January. The biggest question has to be if the Giants will be able to overcome the crowd, whom many believe is the loudest in the NFL.
You'll notice that I will never refer to the Seattle fans as the "12th Man." As a former student of Texas A&M University, how can you blame me? They stole that moniker from us. We've called our student section the 12th Man since the 1920's. What bothers me is that ESPN calls the Seahawks fans that but rarely uses that when showing highlights of the Aggies. Puzzling...
No matter what you want to call them, they are loud, and the Seahawks tend to play much better at their home stadium.
This is why, despite the fact that the Giants have a huge advantage over them in terms of offensive and defensive rankings, the numbers really have to be thrown out the window.
The Seahawks are 3-0 at home, with an average margin of victory of 14.6 per game. They already beat the San Diego Chargers, who possess the league's No. 1 offense and defense in terms of yards per game, at home.
So how do the Seahawks overcome that? They feed off the crowd and capitalize on big plays, especially on special teams. In their win against the Chargers, KR Leon Washington returned two kicks for touchdowns.
The Giants have struggled all year on kick coverage, so this is disturbing to think about. They had made some improvements until the Cowboys game; Dallas return man Akwasi Owusu-Ansah was one tackle away from taking two kicks all the way.
When you look at the numbers, it is almost hard to ignore the Seahawks 29th rated pass defense and the Giants eighth rated pass offense, but they can't go in with too much confidence, or they will be overwhelmed by the adrenaline from the crowd.
All that being said, you also can't ignore that Eli Manning almost looks more comfortable on the road than he does in the swirling winds at The Meadowlands. The Giants adopted the moniker "Road Warriors" in 2007 in route to a Super Bowl victory, and from 2007 to the present, are 18-9 on the road. That is 66 percent for those counting.
The Giants also have to fight another demon in that this is the week after a bye. The Giants are 6-15 in their history in those weeks. They are 3-3 under Tom Coughlin; nothing like a West coast trip to test how well prepared you are after a bye.
The Giants have a coaching staff under Coughlin that rarely get caught up in things they ought not to get caught up in. In other words, he will make sure they are prepared to take on the crowd.