Well, the hope of making the playoffs and winning the NFC East division are now officially over for the New York Giants after losing to the San Diego Chargers last week. With three games left in the season, the Giants at least hope to go out on a high note. Perhaps reaching the .500 mark?
The schedule will not help down the stretch, though, and this Sunday the Giants will welcome the team that has high hopes of playing at MetLife Stadium come February in the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks, who have the best record in the NFL at 11-2, have it all and possess the ingredients to make it back to New Jersey for the Super Bowl.
Even if the Giants give it their best, it may not be good enough, as Seattle is trying to lock up home field advantage.
Alas, anything can happen and here are five things to watch for.
With nothing to play for except pride, well, will the Giants play with pride?
Like I said, even if the Giants’ playoff hopes were still alive, beating Seattle would be a tall task. Seattle has the offense, defense and special teams to get back to MetLife Stadium in February. There is a reason the Seahawks are a seven-point favorite. That all said, it would be nice to see the Giants play with spirit and try to play spoiler to the Seahawks. With Tom Coughlin manning the ship, the team ought to put up a good effort. However, getting up for a game with nothing on the line is tough and we’ll see which Giants’ team comes to play on Sunday.
Can the Giants establish any sort of passing game?
Well if Eli Manning couldn’t get it going (at least statistically) against the likes of Washington, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Dallas and San Diego, there is little hope he can get going against one of the elite defenses in the league.
The Seahawks are allowing only 176 passing yards per game, which is tops in the league. They have also yielded only 14 touchdowns (which is fourth-fewest in the league) via the air.
Expect the Giants to rely on the run game in this affair. This leads me to my next point.
Will Andre Brown be the only offense for the Giants?
If the Giants have any shot of winning, they will need a herculean effort from Brown.
Brown is coming off a decent outing against the Chargers in which he ran for 81 yards on 16 carries—albeit losing a fumble.
Even though he’s played in just five games, Brown still leads the Giants in rushing with 424 yards (186 more yards than the next closest player, Brandon Jacobs). However, running on the Seahawks is no simple task either. They hold teams to just 111.5 rushing yards per game (13th in the NFL) and have given up only four rushing scores (tied for third-fewest in the league). However, if there was a way to beat Seattle, it is on the ground.
Given their pick of poisons, look for the Giants to ride Brown for as long as they can and also mix in Peyton Hillis to keep Brown fresh.
Can the Giants contain Russell Wilson in the pocket?
Out of all the great rookie quarterbacks of last year, Wilson is perhaps having the best season between himself, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.
Wilson is mature beyond his years and just simply knows how to win. He knows when to make the right decisions; whether running the ball or passing it. Where he can be so effective is when he scrambles. Wilson looks for his receivers first and many times, teams over pursue him and he burns opposing teams deep.
Wilson has the skill, intelligence and athleticism to make plays and regardless if the Giants bring pressure or not, he should be able to do his damage.
Will the Giants let Marshawn Lynch go full “Beast Mode?”
As the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher, Lynch will undoubtedly get his carries in an effort to set the tone early in the game.
Make no mistake, Lynch is a battering ram who has a low center of gravity and is extremely hard to tackle. He really is a “beast” when he gets going.
Given the fact that the Giants allowed Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead to rush for 145 yards against them last week, Lynch should fare well in this matchup. But if the Giants can somehow bottle up Lynch and force Wilson to pass in the frigid temperatures, they may stand a good chance of getting the upset.
Dan Stack | Featured Columnist