Scott's A and B Sides: Giants vs. Seahawks
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Seattle has come a long way since the days of Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck lighting the Giants (and the rest of the league) up for 40 points or more. They’ve lost a Super Bowl coach, their Pro Bowl running back and quarterback and a championship-caliber defense, and replaced it with a caretaker squad while Pete Carroll tries his hand at building an NFL franchise.
On paper, this is as close to a “gimme” game as the G-Men will get all year. Seattle comes into New York with a 1-3 record, dead last in rushing, 28th overall in passing and some horrid numbers on defense. But would you be surprised to learn that the G-Men might not be headed toward the romp that Vegas and analysts are predicting?
In a new series, discover the keys to a Big Blue victory and how their opponent might overcome them. It’s the A-side and B-side. And it’s inside this slideshow.
Big Passing Plays Might Decide the Game
Eli Manning has to connect on big plays to stretch Seattle's bend-don't-break passing defense.
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Eli Manning has been on fire the past two weeks (43-of-63, 575 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT) and certainly doesn’t fear a defense he has dismantled in their last two meetings—41-7 (2010) and 44-6 (2008). With Manningham reportedly having great practices, Cruz in good form and an always-dependable Nicks leading the receiving corps, Seattle has match-up problems all over the field.
Seattle has followed a bend-don’t-break pass defense that has actually performed better than many of the NFL’s top teams. The Patriots, Packers and Saints have all allowed far more passing yards, and the Seahawks have only given away three passing touchdowns in their first four games.
How has that been possible? Seattle’s red-zone defense is hovering around 50 percent, meaning they’ve been successful at stopping a drive once their opponent nickel-and-dimed them down the field.
For Giants fans, stalling inside the 20 is a lurking fear they hope their team will conquer.
Can the Big Blue Running Game Stomp Seattle's Average Defense?
Seattle really isn't that bad at stopping the run.
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There aren't a lot of great things to say about the Giants' rushing attack so far. Bradshaw's 4.1 yards-per-carry isn't all it seems to be. Though Ahmad's run distribution curve is, more or less, in line with what you would want a RB to have.
But when 51 percent of your runs gain no more than three yards, it's clear that Bradshaw's game highs are driving his overall average up. In fact, if you remove the high (and the low, to be fair) from each game, Bradshaw's season per-carry average drops to 2.7 yards.
In case you were wondering, no, Jacobs really isn't that much better.
Seattle does have the keys to sputter the Giants offense, and they’ve been on display in their past two games. The Seahawks held the Cardinals to just 90 yards on the ground and didn’t allow a long run of more than nine yards during the game.
After falling way behind in the first half against Atlanta and Michael Turner, who burned them for two touchdowns, the Seahawks stiffened their run defense and forced the Falcons into two long field goals (all while Tavaris Jackson was leading an improbable comeback).
As I wrote a week ago , the running game is a critical part of Big Blue’s gameplan, and the results have not been pretty when they’ve been unable to get into a rhythm. In fact, Seattle’s rushing defense (14th) is ranked better than the Giants rushing offense (24th).
Secondary Play Needs to Be in Good Shape During Second Half
Since getting benched, Aaron Ross has come alive for Big Blue.
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Through the first four weeks of this season, with all the injuries that have forced inexperienced players into key defensive roles, the secondary has been impressive. After the Giants threw a stinker at Washington (a game in which the offense could arguably be blamed far more than the defense), they've shut down Bradford and Vick, come up with two big late interceptions against the Kafka-driven Eagles and made the key second-half stops that the Giants needed in order to mount their Week 4 comeback in Arizona.
If Aaron Ross, Antrel Rolle and company can continue their unexpected magic, against the Seahawks, it could be an even bigger blowout than in recent meetings.
Has Seattle's otherwise unproductive done anything right this season? Well, they've been better in the second half and, in past years, that's one area where the Giants have their fans on the edge of their seats. The Seahawks scored all 17 of their points against San Francisco in the second half, beat the Cardinals on a third quarter touchdown drive and almost upset the Falcons by scoring 21 points after opening the first half with just one touchdown.
Seattle is coming into the Meadowlands believing that, if they can ride out the first half, they may finally be able to capitalize on that comeback feeling.
Big Blue Overcomes Blue Bird
Ultimately, the Giants will prove to be too much for the Seahawks to handle.
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Unless the Seahawks can force some turnovers or make big third-down plays on defense, it's unlikely they can overcome the advantages that the Giants have. The running game may continue to struggle here, but Eli stays hot and connects on big plays.
The sad reality for Seahawks fans is that rebuilding, while can ultimately translate to a playoff contender, evolves only after a lot of growing pains. Don't be too sadAndrew Luck waits in the distance.
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