By Steve Silverman
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A December home game against the Seattle Seahawks should have been one of the more meaningful dates on the NFL schedule for the New York Giants.
Based on preseason expectations, the Giants should have been leading the NFC East and the Seahawks should have been the lead dog in the NFC West. This game should have had huge ramifications for homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Instead, it’s a game that should allow the Seahawks to get used to their environs for Super Bowl XLVIII. We are going to spare you the platitudes that any team can get hot in the playoffs and that the Seahawks have a lot of work to do before they earn a spot in the Feb. 2 mega-event.
Nobody can come close to beating the Seahawks at home and they are going to clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs in the next week or two. They are a dominant team, one that the Giants should emulate if and when they go through the rebuilding process.
There is nothing gimmicky about the Seahawks. They have a tremendous leader in quarterback Russell Wilson, a power running back with a mean streak in Marshawn Lynch and a pair of nasty receivers in Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, who play like they have something to prove every time they step on the field.
They also have a potential game-breaker in Percy Harvin, who will be able to take this team to a new level if he can ever get healthy and stay there. Harvin has been troubled by hip labrum problems all season and has not been able to put his speed and quickness on display. However, if he ever gets healthy, the Seahawks will be able to register the one-punch knockout as well as use the accumulation of blows to stop their opponents.
In addition to having the right offensive formula, the Seahawks are the best defensive team in the NFL. Much of the attention goes to cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas, both of whom excel at their jobs.
But the real hero for the Seahawks is second-year middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who is already one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Wagner was selected with the 47th pick (second round) out of Utah State.
Wagner was not from a football factory. He simply is a dominant football player who leads the best defense in football with 89 tackles (tied with Thomas) and runs sideline-to-sideline to make plays.
Wagner’s devotion to his craft has made him one of the best middle linebackers in football. Wagner is in the film room all the time. He was largely responsible for shutting down Drew Brees when the Seahawks throttled the Saints 34-7 in Week 13 and he’s got the speed and power to break down opposing offenses.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll loves him, and credits Wagner for a large part of the Seahawks’ success.
“He’s at his best right now,” Carroll said. “He doesn’t look fancy but he just makes a lot of winning plays.”
Wagner is simply reliable. Defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett know they can rush the passer with impunity because if opponents are going to throw a screen pass to either player’s spot on the line, Wagner will be there to clean up the mess.
In short, the Seahawks have a boatload of players who are willing to accept responsibility for their team’s performance. They are not going to let their teammates down by not making the block on offense or the tackle on defense.
That’s the way the Giants played football when they emerged as a Super Bowl team in the 2011 season and that’s how the Seahawks have been playing this year.
Instead of shaking their heads and wondering what went wrong, the Seahawks are dictating the outcome of games. They are coming to MetLife Stadium this Sunday to take care of business against the Giants.
They have the players and the scheme to get back there in less than two months to play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
It would be a shocker if they didn’t make it.
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