Giants vs. Seahawks: 3 things to watch

Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch will be a tough tackle for the Giants on Sunday.
Credit: Getty Images

The Giants are in the midst of playing out the string, but promise to continue to play hard and for pride.

But for the visiting Seahawks (11-2), much more is at stake, as they’re currently the top seed in the conference and can lock up homefield advantage in the NFC with a victory.

Three things to watch for …

1. Strength vs. strength.

The Giants’ trio of wideouts of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle will have its greatest test of the season going against the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” secondary. That unit, led by loquacious cornerback Richard Sherman, is arguably the most physical and talented in the league. The Giants’ wide receivers will literally be hard-pressed to make plays against the Seahawks, as they thrive on as much clutching, grabbing and rerouting as is allowed under league rules. The Seahawks are ranked first in the NFL in total defense (287.1 yards a game) and pass defense (175.6) and their 17 interceptions are tied for third in the league.

Seattle routinely plays eight men in the box, meaning their bump-and-run corners are often left on an island in man-to-man coverage. If Giants quarterback Eli Manning has time to throw, it’ll be interesting to see how much success Big Blue’s wideout corps can have.

Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said his receivers have been itching for the chance to prove themselves all week.

“It always gives you an opportunity to test yourself, see how you fare against one of the better teams in the league and certainly one of the better defenses in the league,” Gilbride said. “Some of the things they do should give us some chances. Our guys are always clamoring for one-on-one opportunities. You’re going to get more than your fair share of one-on-one opportunities to win against some pretty good coverage and guys that play very physical. You have to fight your way through the holds and continue to battle.”

2. Let them play?

The wideout-secondary battle may be the most intriguing story on Sunday, but another important sidebar to the game will be the tone set by the game officials. The Seahawks corners are widely known for their aggressive ways, including grabbing receivers’ jerseys and nudging guys off their routes, even after the legalized 5-yard limit. Last week’s loss to the 49ers drew the ire of Sherman, who before the game boasted they were going to manhandle the 49ers’ wideouts and “force the refs to call it.” But when Seattle’s defensive backs were repeatedly flagged for penalties, it was the Seahawk players who cried foul.

“They got the benefit of a few calls throughout the game and that helps you especially on third down,” Sherman said.

On Sunday, it’ll be up to the referees to decide whether Sherman and Co. can go back to their physical ways or if the Giants’ receivers will be allowed to roam free in the secondary.

“When you see the film and you see them play, you know what type of players they are and you know that they’re going to be physical and it’s going to be a battle,” Cruz said. “You have to go in there expecting to fight — maybe not physically, but expecting for there to be a battle back and forth from a press coverage aspect and be able to fight and win your battle.”

Randle said he’s embracing that challenge and hopes the referees let them play.

“I don’t mind it at all,” said Randle, who leads the team with six touchdown receptions. “We have big, physical guys like that, too. You’ve just got to be able to get their hands off you, so I’m looking forward to just taking advantage of it, using my skills and using some of my quickness to get off those jams and kind of beat them down the field. … I think any [receiver] likes the press coverage [because] big plays are pretty much available when you press one-on-one. The safeties are in the middle of the field a lot, so mainly it’s just you and that corner. It’s going to be up to you to go out there and make that play and beat that guy head-up above you. The weight is on your back. It’s going to be up to us receivers to go out there and make those plays.”

3. Beast mode

When the Seahawks have the ball, they’ll look to slowly sap the will out the Giants, behind a rushing attack that’s among the league’s best.

The Giants’ run defense is 11th in the league (105.4 yards allowed a game) and have routinely held many of the league’s best backs to far below their per-game and per-carry averages — including Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles – and recently had a six-game stretch in which they didn’t allow more than 110 rushing yards in a game. That streak ended two weeks ago when Washington had 114 yards on the ground (88 from quarterback Robert Griffin III) and continued last week when San Diego Charger running back Ryan Mathews had 103 yards. Mathews was just the second back to pass the 100-yard barrier against the Giants this season (joining Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams).

Now comes a running back in Marshawn Lynch who is far more accomplished than anyone in Washington’s and San Diego’s running back stable. Nicknamed “Beastmode,” Lynch is a power runner with great vision and swift footwork who has a stiff arm that defenders have nightmares about. Seattle possesses the NFL’s third-ranked rushing attack, averaging 141.5 yards a game. Lynch, their workhorse back, is third in the NFL with 244 carries, fifth with 1,042 yards and tied for first with 10 rushing touchdowns. And even their quarterback, Russell Wilson, has enough mobility (485 rushing yards) to keep Big Blue from solely focusing on Lynch.

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck acknowledged that Lynch is one of the league’s most effective weapons.

“I’m more impressed with Marshawn just for the fact that he’s a running back that gives more of a pounding than taking it,” Tuck said. “That scheme really fits him well. It’s a constant that you see him falling forward, breaking tackles. You really don’t see him getting hit for negative yardage, so that’s going to keep the sticks in their favor. Plus, he’s one of those backs that when he does break it, he can take it to the house. We’ve played a lot of great backs this year and hopefully that experience helps us out with him, because he’s a load.”

Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…