Get to know the Giants' opponent for their Week 10 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –**
The Giants will take their longest trip of the season on a short week when they travel to Seattle to face the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks Sunday in CenturyLink Field. A 40-24 defeat to Indianapolis Monday night left the Giants with a three-game losing streak and a 3-5 record. Seattle won its second game in a row, 30-24 over Oakland, to improve to 5-3. The teams met last Dec. 23 in MetLife Stadium, where the Seahawks won, 23-0. Their last meeting in Seattle was on Nov. 7, 2010, when the Giants enjoyed a 41-7 triumph. The Giants lead the series, 9-7. They are 7-19 against defending Super Bowl champions.
Seattle is 20-2 in CenturyLink Field since the start of the 2012 season (including playoffs). The Seahawks have outscored their opponents by 310 points (637-327) in those 22 games. They have a young team, with only four players over 30. Seattle has been hit by injuries on both sides of the ball; eight starters were unable to dress for the victory over Oakland last Sunday, and two more were available only on an emergency basis. Coach Pete Carroll hopes to have at least four of the players back for the Giants.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS OFFENSE
The Seahawks are ranked 15th in the NFL with an average of 347.3 yards a game. They are second in rushing yards per game (148.5) and first in yards per carry (5.1). Seattle is 30th in passing yardage (198.8) and 11thin scoring (25.3 points a game). The offense's strength is a productive rushing attack that helps set up open receivers downfield in what is a very effective perimeter passing game.
Russell Wilson personifies the phrase "dual-threat quarterback." On Oct. 19 at St. Louis, he became the first player in NFL history to pass for more than 300 yards (313) and rush for more than 100 yards (106) in a game. Wilson has excellent poise, arm strength and playmaking ability inside and outside the pocket. Few quarterbacks are better at throwing on the move. His backup is veteran Tarvaris Jackson.
Workhorse back Marshawn Lynch is a physical runner with vision and tackle-breaking strength. He is also a reliable receiver. He leads the team with 549 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Against the Giants, Lynch has 57 carries for 263 yards (4.6-yard average) and three touchdowns, plus 12 catches for 148 yards. Wilson is Seattle's second-leading rusher with 393 yards. Lynch's backup, Robert Turbin, is a slippery back with good speed and receiving skills. Christine Michael is a sturdy back with quick feet and a good burst. Fullback Will Tukuafu is a physical smasher with size, strength and the ability to adjust on the move.
Seattle has a good group of receivers even without the recently-traded Percy Harvin. Doug Baldwin leads the Seahawks with 34 catches for 409 yards. He is a crafty route runner who is sudden at the breakpoint. He is in sync with Wilson when the quarterback leaves the pocket and he makes adjustments on the ball with a quick upfield turn. Jermaine Kearse is tough and competitive and has deceptive deep speed. He has good body control down the field. Rookie Paul Richardson is an explosive route runner who has demonstrated elusiveness after catching the ball. Ricardo Lockette has good foot quickness, vertical speed and is an aggressive blocker. First-year pro Kevin Norwood debuted in Week 7 vs. St. Louis. He is good working underneath and has soft hands.
Starting tight end Zach Miller has missed five games since undergoing ankle surgery during Seattle's bye week. Luke Willson has been the starter in his absence. He has solid blocking production and is a big target, though he's had limited receiving opportunities. Cooper Helfet is a former practice squad player with fluid receiving skills. The Seahawks this week signed Tony Moeaki, a transaction that coincided with the news that Miller is not close to returning. Moeaki, 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, was a third-round draft choice out of Iowa in 2010 by the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent three years in Kansas City, but missed the 2011 season due to injury. Moeaki played in 30 games with 29 starts, recording 80 receptions for 1,009 yards with four touchdowns. He signed with the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 4, 2013, and played in two games.
The injuries have been particularly acute on the offensive line. Center Max Unger (foot) and tackle Russell Okung (calf) didn't play last week vs. the Raiders, though Carroll hopes to have them back for the Giants. Guard James Carpenter hurt his ankle last week. Backup center Stephen Schilling is battling a knee injury. Okung is a former Pro Bowler who plays with good pad level, makes good adjustments in the run game and is patient in pass protection. Rookie right tackle Justin Britt is precise in his technique and is competitive. Carpenter has good quickness at the snap and has long arms he uses to his advantage. Right guard J.R. Sweezy has a strong upper body and a quick jab in pass protection. Unger gets push at the point of attack and has impressive foot-speed. Alvin Bailey is a solid backup at tackle and guard. Garry Gilliam, Andrew McDonald, Patrick Lewis and Schilling are the other reserves.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS DEFENSE
The Seahawks are continuing their tradition of having one of the NFL's best defenses. The current unit is ranked fourth overall, allowing 304.9 yards a game. Seattle is fourth against the run, giving up 83.0 yards a game on the ground – and a league-best 3.2 yards a carry. The Seahawks are sixth defending the pass, surrendering 221.9 yards a game. They are 10th in scoring defense, giving up 21.8 points a game.
In their 2013 championship season, the Seahawks were the first team since the 1985 Chicago Bears to allow the fewest yards and points and force the most turnovers. The unit continues to play well, but injuries have taken their toll. Linebacker Bobby Wagner has had his best season interrupted by a turf toe. He has been declared out of the game. Seattle hopes to get back linebacker Malcolm Smith (groin), who was the Super Bowl MVP, and starting corner Byron Maxwell (calf). Safeties Cam Chancellor (groin) and Jeron Johnson (concussion) and defensive tackle Jordan Hill (ankle) are expected to return. Nickel corner Jeremy Lane is eligible to return for the first time since a Week 1 groin injury.
Michael Bennett (3.0 sacks at left end) and Cliff Avril (2.0 on the right) are the Seahawks' best pass rushers. Bennett has a good combination of size, speed and strength and is particularly effective when he works inside. Avril is a gifted edge rusher with outstanding speed and instincts and rare closing ability. Left tackle Tony McDaniel has good anchor strength and pass rush quickness. Brandon Mebane's run-stopping prowess has drawn praise from Carroll. Mebane has a thick build and is smart and instinctive. Designated pass rusher O'Brien Schofield averages 28 snaps a game. He has good initial quickness and a plan to get to the quarterback. Backup tackle Kevin Williams, a former Pro Bowler with Minnesota, has a thick, heavy body and good upfield movements. Jordan Hill plays with natural leverage and penetrates gaps. Seattle this week was awarded defensive defensive end Demarcus Dobbs off waivers from San Francisco. Dobbs played six games for the 49ers this season before his release on Tuesday.
Undrafted rookie Brock Coyle made his first NFL start last week vs. the Raiders at middle linebacker. He is an aggressive player with good straight line speed. Bruce Irvin is tied with Bennett for the team-lead with 3.0 sacks and had an interception last week he returned 35 yards for a touchdown. He has explosive athletic ability and rare speed and he times up his hits. K.J. Wright leads the team with 64 tackles, including 13 last week. He has good pursuit range and shed skills. Smith always plays with exceptional effort and has good instincts. Kevin Pierre-Louis and Mike Morgan also contribute.
Left cornerback Richard Sherman has become one of the NFL's most recognized players. He is a long-limbed and physical bump-and-run corner with speed and range. Sherman has very good ball awareness and he picked off his first pass of the season vs. Oakland. Maxwell missed the last three games with his calf injury. He has the strength and length to disrupt and jam receivers when they try to release. Tharold Simon started his third game in Maxwell's place last week. He is a big, classic press corner with good ball skills. Chancellor is a Pro Bowl safety when healthy. He plays like a linebacker in the box, where he helps shut down the run game. Free safety Earl Thomas is a high-motor tough guy with athletic and playmaking ability. Nickel corner Jeremy Lane is quick to drop and he keeps the action underneath. Jeron Johnson, DeShawn Snead, Steven Terrell and Marcus Burley complete the secondary.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS SPECIAL TEAMS
The trickle-down effect of all the injuries is that newcomers are staffing the special teams, one reason Oakland blocked a punt that it recovered for a touchdown last week. The return of Lane and Johnson will significantly boost the special teams. Kicker Steven Hauschka has a strong leg and poise under pressure. He has made 16 of 18 field goal attempts and has 27 touchbacks this season. Nine-year punter and holder Jon Ryan has good hang times and directional ability. Baldwin returned punts last week but strained his groin, so the Seahawks are expected to go back to Bryan Walters, who was released on Saturday and re-signed on Wednesday. Walters has a 9.1-yard average on 12 returns. With Harvin gone, the kickoff returner is rookie Paul Richardson, who has a 34.3-yard average – but only four runbacks.