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Eye On the Seahawks: Breaking down the matchup

Posted Oct 19, 2017

Giants.com's Michael Eisen breaks down the opposing offense, defense, and special teams:




EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –
The Giants hope to extend one development while ending another when they host the Seattle Seahawks Sunday in MetLife Stadium. After earning their first victory of the season Sunday night in Denver, the Giants will try to take two consecutive victories into their bye week. To do so, they must end their three-game losing streak to the Seahawks, who defeated them in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

The first two of those games were played here. The Giants lead the series that dates to 1976, 9-8. They last faced the Seahawks on Nov. 9, 2014, a 38-17 loss in Seattle. The teams last met in New Jersey on Dec. 15, 2013, when the Seahawks won, 23-0. Seattle won two games before its bye and arrives with a 3-2 record. The Giants are 1-5.

What is the Seahawks’ biggest strength?

A talented and cohesive defense. Eight of the 11 starters have played in the same system together for five years. The four-man secondary – cornerbacks Jeremy Lane (six years) and Richard Sherman (seven) and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor (eight apiece) -- is as cohesive a unit as there is in the NFL. The Seahawks have 2016 Pro Bowlers on every level of their defense: ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril (who is headed for injured reserve with a neck injury), middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, and Sherman. Lane was inactive vs. the Rams with a groin injury. Thomas and Chancellor form the best safety duo in football. Kris Richard is in his third season as the defensive coordinator, but his 11th on Seattle’s staff. This is a talented, aggressive, intelligent, experienced and determined group of defenders.




Which player is key to the Seahawks’ offense?

Russell Wilson makes the offense go. Few quarterbacks frustrate opponents as much, or are as good at making plays outside the pocket. Wilson forces defensive backs to cover a large area for an extended period of time, and he has great touch and is an accurate thrower on the move. Although he prefers to pass, Wilson is Seattle’s second-leading rusher with 154 yards, including 62 yards on nine third-down runs. Wilson’s 90.6 passer rating is 14th in the NFL, but his fourth-quarter rating of 128.5 is the league’s best by a wide margin. Wilson has thrown five touchdown passes and no interceptions in the fourth quarter. Seattle’s formula for success is to protect the football (five giveaways in five games), convert third downs (42.9%, ninth in the league), and let Wilson create big plays.

What is the strength of the Seahawks’ offense?

Their talent at the skill positions. Although it sometimes seems as if Wilson could win as a solo act, he has plenty of support. Leading rusher Chris Carson was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury, but Eddie Lacy is a veteran who has run for more than 3,500 career yards. Thomas Rawls is also in the mix. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin and tight end Jimmy Graham are Wilson’s go-to targets. Both of them move around the formation in an attempt to create mismatches, and they have combined for 48 catches and two touchdowns. Baldwin usually lines up in the slot and has been Wilson’s most-targeted receiver for four consecutive seasons. Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett have very good deep speed.

Which player is key to the Seahawks’ defense?

It’s possible to select any one of seven players, but we’ll go with Thomas, a ballhawking centerfielder with excellent instincts. He was selected the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his performance in Seattle’s most recent game, a victory against the Rams in Los Angeles on Oct. 8, when he had seven tackles (six solo), an interception and a forced fumble.


What is the strength of the Seahawks’ defense?

Seattle is ranked ninth in the league against the pass, allowing 202.8 yards a game. The Seahawks combine a very good pass rush with their talented secondary. Ends Bennett and Frank Clark have combined for 6.5 sacks. Opposing teams are still reluctant to throw in Sherman’s direction. He is a big (6-3), physical, and long cornerback with outstanding ball skills. Thomas and Chancellor are on patrol in the back of the defense, which prevents routine plays from becoming long gains.

Which player is the key to the Seahawks’ special teams?

Lockett, a return specialist who finished in the top 10 in the NFL in kickoff and punt returns in both 2015 and 2016. As a rookie two years ago, he scored a touchdown on a 105-yard kickoff return, and another returning a punt. In the last two seasons, Lockett has six kickoff returns and four punt returns longer than 40 yards. He is currently averaging 25.5 yards on six kickoff returns and 6.1 yards on eight punt returns.

Based on the scouting report, what must the Giants do to win the game?

Keep Wilson in the pocket and don’t let him make big plays. He leads the NFL with 149 scrambling yards, and he can wear down a secondary with his ability to extend a play before completing a pass. Wilson is less dangerous when he’s bottled up between the tackles.

Statistics you should know:

*Only 11 points have been scored in the first quarter of the Seahawks’ five games (they own a 9-2 advantage). Seattle has outscored its opponents in the fourth quarter, 39-9.

*The Seahawks are 20-14-1 on the road since 2013.

*The Seahawks are 4-0 in MetLife Stadium, with two victories against the Giants, one vs. the Jets, and another against Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII.