Nov 072014
 
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Antrel Rolle, New York Giants (December 15, 2013)

Antrel Rolle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks, November 9, 2014

The 3-5 New York Giants (1-2 in the NFC East) will travel to Seattle to play the defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks in a stadium where the road team rarely wins. Despite injury issues at quarterback, the 6-2 Philadelphia Eagles (2-0 in the division) and 6-3 Dallas Cowboys (1-1) in the division have all but left the Giants in the dust. The Giants have zero wiggle room. They must win this game or their season is all but officially over.

FOUR DOWNS:

First Down
Will Jason Pierre-Paul be Jason Pierre-Paul?
While few players on the Giants defense played well Monday night, Pierre-Paul was one of those that stood out as being abnormally quiet. Just a week after his best game of the season, Pierre-Paul was kept in check all night in prime time. The same statement that was made before the season still holds true today, in order for the defense to be successful, Pierre-Paul need to be a force. Be that against the run, the pass, or both. He can’t go invisible as he did on Monday.

Second Down
Will New York’s rebuilt secondary hold up?
It seems like a very, very long time ago that the Giants secondary was considered the deepest and strength of the team. Injuries have ravaged the position, taking the teams No. 2, No. 3, No. 4 and now, with Zack Bowman in the hospital, No. 5 cornerbacks. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been banged up and now, New York may be starting a combination of Jayron Hosley and Chandler Fenner opposite DRC. It’s gotten ugly, very ugly. With a pass rush that has been sporadic, the New York secondary may be ripe for the picking Sunday.

Third Down
Can Odell Beckahm Jr. continue to progress?
If the Giants season ends short of the playoffs, one of the things that will be interesting to watch progress is the play of Odell Beckham Jr. The rookie has progressed each game he’s played with his play coming to the forefront on Monday night. The potential of Beckham going up against Richard Sherman will be fun to watch.

Fourth Down
Will Eli Manning throw an interception?
Eli Manning is going through his best interception-less streak of his career, but is this the week it finally comes to an end? The Seahawks have one of the better secondaries in the NFL and there’s a chance if New York falls behind early, Manning will need to air it out. One of the biggest positives of this season has been the progression of Manning after the regression from a year ago.

BREAKING DOWN SEATTLE:

OFFENSE – by Connor Hughes
Strength?
The Seahawks rushing attack is one of the best in the NFL with its combination of power and technique. The team simply wears opponents down throughout a game and by the fourth, no one wants any part of Marshawn Lynch. Couple the running game with the smart play of Russell Wilson, and Seattle has quite the 1-2 punch.

This season, Seattle is No. 2 in rushing yards per game, averaging 148.5.

Weakness?
Aside from Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks don’t really have another dynamic playmaker on the team’s offense. Golden Tate is in Detroit, Percy Harvin was traded to the Jets. There really isn’t anyone as a receiver that scares an opposition. From that standpoint, if New York can contain the run, the Seahawks lack-of receivers may be exactly what the Giants beat-up secondary needs.

DEFENSE by Eric Kennedy
Strength?
While not quite as intimidating defensively as last season, the Seahawks are still very good on defense. In terms of yards allowed, they are fourth in the NFL (4th against the run and 6th against the pass). But they are 10th in points allowed. When healthy, the Seahawks are strong on the defensive line and have the best secondary in the NFL. While Seattle’s cornerbacks receiver a lot of media attention, they have the best starting safety combination in the NFL. Bruce Irvin is a play-maker at linebacker.

Weakness?
Injuries. Seattle has had injury issues both at linebacker and in the secondary. And while Seattle can still rush the passer, the sack numbers haven’t been there  yet with Seattle only accruing 11 sacks on the season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Connor Hughes –
Odell Beckham Jr.
Yeah, I most definitely was not the guy that wrote the mathematically article about how the Giants should hold off on any lofty expectations about Beckham. The receiver looks like the real deal and is getting better and better each passing week. It will be very interesting to watch Beckham against the Seattle secondary and against Sherman when he wonders over to that side.

Beckham does things athletically I’ve never seen before. The one-handed grabs that were shown on tape on Monday Night Football were the same catches he was making every day from the jugs machine in training camp. Now that he’s healthy, the world is seeing what he’s capable of.

He’s surprised me. A lot.

Eric Kennedy –
Jason Pierre-Paul
If Robert Ayers plays as well as he did last week, and Jason Pierre-Paul can re-gain the form he showed only a few weeks ago against Dallas, the Giants defensive line could cause all kinds of problems for a Seahawks offensive line that has really struggled with injuries. The pass rush is important, but this week, run defense will be the greater emphasis. Stop the run.

FROM THE COACHES’ MOUTH:

Tom Coughlin – On the Seahawks leading the NFL with 5.1 yards per carry: “They definitely build themselves on that aspect of it. Now, they do it from open formations, too. It’s not just regular personnel. They want to run the ball first, and off of that comes all of their play-actions, which are outstanding, and then the quarterback (Russell Wilson) and his ability to keep the ball on the bootleg – scramble, get on the perimeter, make plays outside the pocket, that’s his game. He has a strong arm and he’s smart…Keep him in (the pocket). Keep him in there. He’s their second-leading rusher and he runs up and down the field if you’re not careful.”

Pete Carroll – “I think (Odell Beckham) looks terrific. We had him really highly rated in the draft. (We) loved his overall football ability. He was a terrific returner. His great speed and also he has just great athleticism and he is great competitor and smart player. You put it all together. He is a tremendous prospect for them and he is really coming alive and you can see that he has great potential.”

FINAL WORD:

Connor Hughes – I have a feeling this game will be a lot closer than many think, but this season as an entirety feels like it may spiral out of control after this loss. Antrel Rolle’s comments seem to have ruffled a few feathers and there’s only so much that can be expected from the Giants’ secondary. If Rodgers-Cromartie goes down, how much can really be expected of Chandler Fenner and Jayron Hosley?

It really is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen – the injuries that constantly seem to attack the Giants. More than anything else, the secondary injuries. Every year it seems players drop like flies. I don’t have any explanation for it, but this year may be the worst in recent memory. Realistically, because of injuries, the Giants could enter Sunday’s game without the following starters:

  • Running back (Jennings)
  • Receiver No. 2 (Cruz)
  • Receiver No. 3 (Jernigan)
  • Left guard (Schwartz)
  • Right Guard (Snee)
  • Left Guard (Richburg)
  • Defensive Tackle (Jenkins)
  • Defensive End (Kiwanuka)
  • Middle Linebacker (Beason)
  • Stronside Linebacker (McClain – who’s playing middle because of Beason)
  • Cornerback No. 2 (Amukamara)
  • Cornerback No. 3 (Thurmond)
  • Cornerback No. 4 (McBride)
  • Cornerback No. 5 (Bowman)

How many teams can take claim to that? How many teams can survive that? Seattle 28 – New York 17.

Eric Kennedy – I really want to pick the Giants in this game, but I can’t. Seattle doesn’t appear to be the same team as they were last year and I think they can be beaten at home. And in some ways, this game is a good match-up for the Giants in that the strength of Seattle’s offense is their running game rather than their passing game – which is key for the G-Men given New York’s incredibly banged-up secondary. But I just don’t see how the Giants are going to move the football in this game unless Eli Manning and Odell Beckham put on a 2-man show. The Seattle defensive line is going to dominate the Giants offensive line. In particular, their big defensive tackles are going to take away the inside running game. The Giants will become one dimensional. Rueben Randle will be easily handled and the Seahawks have the linebackers and safeties to cover Larry Donnell pretty effectively. If I’m Coughlin and McAdoo, I replace Preston Parker in the slot with Kevin Ogletree and perhaps the Giants could do some damage there.

Seattle just needs to play it conservatively and keep pounding the ball. With the Giants unable to move the rock and likely to be punting frequently with an injured punter (back problems now for Steve Weatherford), the Giants defense will eventually break. Look for Eli to be under duress, get frustrated, and throw a pick or two.

Bottom line…the Giants are 3-0 against bad teams; 0-5 against better teams. And the five losses haven’t been close. Giants keep it interesting until second half, but New York loses 29-9.

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Connor Hughes/BBI

Connor Hughes has been working in both the broadcasting and journalism fields for the last seven years. His work has been heard on WMCX, WBZC and Lenape District Television, while read on the pages of The Star-Ledger and The Burlington County Times. Connor can be reached via email ([email protected]) or on twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes)

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