By Curt Macysyn
The Seattle Seahawks do not need much help at this point. Despite a rare setback on Sunday to the San Francisco 49ers 19-17; the Seahawks still sit atop the NFC standings with an 11-2 record. But if Seattle wanted to replicate a proven formula, they could simply take a gander at the game film of the New York Giants loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
Ironically, what they would find is a simple formula of one part scoring early, mixed with a second part of a fierce pass rush and then equal parts of running and passing attacks. There is no need to shake or stir this combination of ingredients, as the Giants tend to organically combust through their own dumb penalties and stupid mistakes.
Each week the Giants say the right things like they want to play smart, and the team needs to limit mistakes. But when it comes game time, New York makes critical mistakes and commits dumb penalties that lead to another frustrating loss for the squad. Head coach Tom Coughlin appears to be in a perpetual state of disbelief, and who could blame him after enduring this season of follies? But for Coughlin and the Giants a new dynamic has entered the equation, apathy, since the team has been knocked out of the playoff hunt.
Keep the children away from the television, it could get ugly on Sunday when the angry Seahawks invade MetLife Stadium to face a reeling Giants squad.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson’s Twitter handle implies that he is an imposing figure on the football field. But the second-year signal caller from Wisconsin via North Carolina State stands barely 5-foot-11 and tips the scale at a hair over 200 pounds. What Wilson lacks in brawn, he makes up with brains. He is more of a surgeon than an assassin; able to dissect the weakness of a defense at any given time. Overall, Wilson completes 64.5 percent of his passes and has 23 touchdowns against only seven interceptions this year.
Last week, another North Carolina State alum, Philip Rivers carved up the Giants secondary to the tune of a 75 percent completion percentage, despite the fact that the immobile Rivers can be a sitting duck in the pocket. Wilson, on the other hand, is an elusive runner in the open field and has accumulated 458 yards on the ground this season. Wilson runs out of necessity and does not take unnecessary hits. The only weakness in Wilson’s game comes in the form of his nine fumbles (five lost) in 13 games this year.
The punishing hits are saved for bruising tailback Marshawn Lynch. Lynch went over 1,000 yards rushing against the 49ers last Sunday and has 1,042 yards on the ground this season. Lynch has 10 touchdowns, and he has lost only one fumble this season. Containing Lynch and Wilson will be a tall order for the G-men on Sunday.
Wide receiver Golden Tate has emerged as Wilson’s favorite target this season. Tate has 710 receiving yards and four touchdowns this season. He is one of four Seahawks receivers to catch four touchdowns this year. The others are: Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and tight end Zach Miller. Kearse has four touchdowns in just 17 receptions overall.
Seattle ranks sixth in red zone efficiency in the NFL, scoring 59.57 percent of the times they are in the red zone. The Seahawks are ninth in the league in third down efficiency converting 40.75 percent (67 for 165) of third down attempts.
My Name Is Earl
How good is the Seattle defense? The Seahawks give up a paltry 15.8 points per game on average; good for second in the NFL. And the defensive unit only gives up 287 total yards per game, which is tops in the league. Perhaps most impressively, in this era of downfield passing, the Seahawks surrender only 175.6 yards per game through the air.
Earl Thomas plays much larger than 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds. The two-time Pro Bowl safety (2011, 2012) comes into the Giants contest with 89 total tackles and four interceptions. Thomas is tied with linebacker Bobby Wagner for the team lead in tackles and with Richard Sherman for the most interceptions on the squad. Clearly he is a game-changer.
Not everything is golden for the Seahawks, as starting cornerback Brandon Browner is facing a league suspension for substance abuse. Browner’s suspension has not yet been announced by the NFL, but Seattle was already missing Walter Thurmond due to a four-game substance abuse suspension. Thurmond is eligible for a week 17 return to the team. The Seahawks have had six players suspended under the league’s drug policy since 2011.
Absent the drama, the Seahawks secondary is widely acknowledged as the best in the league.
Seattle ranks 11th in the league in quarterback sacks with 36, and their sack leader is defensive end Cliff Avril with 7.5 sacks, but the team’s front seven is incredibly versatile. Typically, defensive tackles Red Bryant and Michael Bennett line up with a hand on the ground. Hybrid defensive ends Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and Avril can rush the quarterback or cover the flat while lining up in a two-point or three-point stance.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is a three down player who shares the team lead in tackles with 89. There are not many weaknesses in the Seattle defense.
The Giants lead the lifetime series against Seattle 9-6-0. The last time these teams met was October 9, 2011 when New York dropped a hard-fought contest 36-25 at the Meadowlands. The Giants won Super Bowl XLVI that season.
The Seahawks resided in the AFC West from their inception in 1976 until 2002, when they were transferred to the NFC West to balance out the divisions.
For more Giants news and updates, visit Giants Central.
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.