By Curt Macysyn
The New York Giants (3-5) likely need divine intervention to come home with a victory against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (5-3) because an act of Congress is unlikely, given the government’s inability to agree on anything. The Seahawks were a team on a mission last season, that culminated in a trouncing of the AFC representatives, the Denver Broncos, 43-8 at MetLife Stadium in Super Bowl XLVIII.
This season, Seattle is no longer a prolific on offense or defense, as the team lost key contributors Walter Thurmond II, Golden Tate, Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan to free agency. In addition, the Seahawks dealt controversial receiver Percy Harvin to the New York Jets at the trading deadline, a move that infuriated running back Marshawn Lynch.
Seattle’s supposed victory lap around the NFL this season, has been anything but a smooth ride, as the team sits in second place in the NFC West division, a full two games behind the Arizona Cardinals (7-1). Statistically, the team remains a far cry from their 2013 performance, and after this week’s game against the Giants, Seattle goes to Kansas City to face the Chiefs, plays host to the division-leading Arizona Cardinals and then travel to San Francisco for a match-up with the 49ers to close out their November schedule.
There has not been an appreciable drop off in quarterback Russell Wilson’s statistics from a year ago, although it does appear that the third-year quarterback from Wisconsin by way of NC State, is throwing the ball more. Wilson’s completion percentage remains right around 63 percent, but if the current trend continues, he will have 75 more passing attempts than he did in 2013. His quarterback rating has also dropped to 93.1 from 101.3 last season, but Wilson can make up the difference over the last eight games of the season. The biggest drop off from last season centers around yards per attempt (6.9 vs. 8.2), which is probably a manifestation of losing Golden Tate to free agency. According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson is graded at – (1.9), which ranks him 22nd overall in the NFL.
Marshawn Lynch has eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing for the Seahawks every year since 2011, but he will have to pick up the pace to ensure another 1,000 yard campaign. Lynch has rarely gotten into beast-mode this season and has only one 100 yard rushing effort in 2014. Lynch’s sole journey cracking the 100 yard mark was in week one against the Green Bay Packers, and he leads the team 549 yards rushing. Lynch does have 22 catches from the backfield and three receiving touchdowns to his credit.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin became the heir apparent to Tate, but has not yet matched Tate’s production with only 409 yards receiving to his credit and only one touchdown reception. The Seahawks rely on their tight ends for production in the passing game, and Jermaine Kearse has 237 receiving yard but a single touchdown catch. Percy Harvin still ranks third in receiving for Seattle with 22 catches despite being traded two games ago.
The most surprising aspect of the decline in Seattle’s play this season comes on the defensive side of the ball. Giving up 24 points to an inept Oakland Raiders’ offense should be an indication that things are not the same for Pete Carroll’s squad this year. As a defensive unit, Pro Football Focus grades Seattle out to a +(42.3) on the season, good for fifth in the NFL, however.
But of the key defensive indicators, the unit has only five interceptions on the season, with five defenders with one pick each. Also, the team has a paltry 11.0 sacks on the year, with Bruce Irvin leading the way with 3.0 sacks. The 11 sacks tie Seattle with Dallas for 28th place in the NFL. By comparison, Minnesota leads the league with 30.0 sacks so far this season. Defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are solid, proven pass rushers, so maybe the edge pass rush gets well against the Giants.
As a unit, the defense has surrendered a total of 2,439 yards, good for fourth in the entire league. On the ground, the Seahawks have given up only 664 rushing yards, and opponents only average 83.0 yards on the ground per game, so Giants’ tailback Andre Williams will have his work cut out for him.
Loud mouth Richard Sherman can still be loud as his +(9.4) rating by Pro Football Focus is fourth best for cornerbacks in the NFL. The safety tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor might be the league’s best, so a recurrence of Big Blue’s case of the dropsies could prove fatal in the Pacific Northwest.
The New York Giants hold a 9-7 advantage in the all-time series. The Seahawks pasted the Giants 23-0 at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 15, 2013. The teams have never met in the NFL playoffs, mostly because Seattle was an AFC team until 2001. Pete Carroll is in his fifth year as Seahawks’ head coach, and he has compiled a 43-29 won-loss record for a .597 winning percentage. In 12 full seasons in the NFC West division, Seattle has won the division crown six times.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.