NFL Preview - NY Giants (3-5) at Seattle (5-3)
By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Seattle Seahawks seem to have remedied their Super Bowl hangover for the time being and need to keep pace in the NFC West with the downtrodden New York Giants slated to visit Sunday afternoon.
The Seahawks are two games behind the Arizona Cardinals, who sport the NFL's best record overall at 7-1, and have won two in a row on the heels of a two- game slide.
Seattle pushed its record to 5-3 and barely beat the winless Oakland Raiders, 30-24, last week at CenturyLink Field. Running back Marshawn Lynch got "Beastmode" back and running again with 67 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and also caught five passes for 76 yards.
Lynch has a touchdown in six of the last seven games at home, including the playoffs, and has 10 total TDs in those seven chances. Lynch is on pace to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 scores for the fourth season in a row.
The defense came through on a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by Bruce Irvin. The unit was stingy and held the Raiders to 226 total yards, while Darren McFadden ran for only 20 yards on 13 carries and rookie quarterback Derek Carr passes for two scores and two INTs. Carr completed 24 of his 41 pass attempts for just 194 yards.
Pete Carroll's squad had a 24-3 lead at halftime and may have taken its foot off the proverbial gas pedal. Either way, it's a win in the NFL.
"We played so well in the first half," said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. "Then we ran into some problems, a bunch of three-and-outs, we had a punt blocked -- some things that are uncharacteristic of what we normally do. ... So to get the win and keep moving forward, I'm feeling really good about how hard we played. We accomplished something really good today."
The Seahawks are winners in 25 of their last 32 regular season games, and have prevailed in 20 of the past 22 games in the Emerald City, including the postseason. Since moving to the NFC in 2002, the Seahawks have dominated at home with a 69-31 record.
New York has lost three in a row after winning three straight, and was beaten handily, 40-24, Monday night by the Indianapolis Colts. Not even the presence of former Giants great Michael Strahan could propel New York to victory. The Hall of Famer received his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring that evening with other Giants legends on hand, including Lawrence Taylor.
The Giants couldn't get anything going on the ground and had 89 yards rushing. Quarterback Eli Manning played well in defeat, passing for 359 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. However, Colts QB Andrew Luck threw for 354 yards and four scores. Luck was sacked just once.
Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who has stepped in for injured wideout Victor Cruz, hauled in eight passes for 156 yards.
The latest woes has the Giants slipping from the NFC East ranks. At 3-5 on the season and games against Seattle, San Francisco and Dallas on the horizon, the Giants have to improve in order to keep up with 6-2 Philadelphia and the 6-3 Cowboys.
"We've got to keep fighting," Manning said. "We've got to find a way to be better offensively, to find a rhythm. We're just not helping ourselves. We're making it tough on ourselves. We've got to find a way to move the ball more efficiently as an offense. I've got to play better, I've got to hit my targets and have a great control of the offense with protections and getting into better plays and doing some things."
New York hasn't lost four in a row since starting last season with six consecutive losses. It dropped a 23-0 score to Seattle last Dec. 15 and is 9-7 all-time against the Seahawks. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is 3-7 against Seattle in his career.
The last time the Giants played in the Pacific Northwest they crushed Seattle by a 41-7 score. Manning passed for 290 yards and three touchdowns, while Lynch ran for 48 yards on 11 carries. Manning is 2-4 lifetime against the Seahawks with 1,752 yards, 13 TDs and 12 INTs.
Seattle has sacked Manning three times in each of the past two meetings.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson didn't contribute much to last week's win over the Raiders and threw for 179 yards and no touchdowns, while rushing for 31 yards on eight carries. Wilson has thrown for less than 200 yards in two straight and three of the last four games.
Wilson, though, knows how to win at home as evidenced by his 20-2 mark with 36 TDs and nine INTs. He has been sacked just once in each of his last two games and should get center Max Unger back on the line. Unger has missed the last four games with a foot injury.
Left tackle Russell Okung could make a return to the field, too.
Wilson leads all NFL quarterbacks with 393 rushing yards, but his passer rating of 93.1 is tied for 15th. Look for a better showing from Wilson in this one against a Giants defense that was shredded by the Colts.
"There are some times we go out and play as good as any team in this league, and there are times when we go out and play as bad as any team in the league," Giants safety Antrel Rolle said after the Monday loss.
Rolle won't have teammate Prince Amukamara to play alongside after the cornerback sustained a torn biceps versus the Colts. Amukamara posted 45 tackles and three interceptions in eight games. Amukamara and Rolle are tied for the team-lead with three INTs, and the Giants have 11 total.
Zack Bowman is expected to join Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as a starting corner at Seattle. Rodgers-Cromartie is tied for first place amongst active defensive backs for most passes defensed (105) since 2008.
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was apparently bothered by a shoulder injury against Indianapolis and has recorded only two sacks (3.5 total) in his last six games.
"There was one occasion when he came off the field and regrouped," Coughlin said of JPP. "He had an incident with that shoulder and he came off and regrouped and then was very anxious to get back in."
Pierre-Paul had two sacks in the last meeting against Seattle.
Irvin and Michael Bennett lead the Seahawks with just three sacks apiece, and the latter hasn't taken down a QB since Sept. 14 at San Diego (6 games). Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor did not play against Oakland because of a groin issue and is hoping to make a return to the "Legion of Boom" Sunday.
If Chancellor is unable to go again, DeShawn Shead will fill in. Shead finished with four tackles against the Raiders, second to leading tackler and linebacker K.J. Wright (64 tackles). Wright had 13 stops Sunday.
"The defense has played really well the last few weeks. The numbers are starting to come in ... rushing totals and overall yardage," Carroll said. "It's really exciting to see that. At the turn of the half, we wanted to see if we could make a little more here and it feels like we have."
Seattle is allowing just 83.0 yards against the rush, 221.9 yards against the pass and 304.9 total yards. The strength of the Giants' offense right now is the rush with rookie running back Andre Williams, who is second among first- year players with 302 yards on the ground.
Starter Rashad Jennings is nursing a knee injury suffered Oct. 5 versus Atlanta and will probably miss another game.
The Seahawks have five division games in the final six games of the season and now is not the time to look ahead. They're still in control of their playoff fate as long as they take it one game at a time, and losing to the visiting Giants is not an option.
Trends are heavy in the NFL. That's why Wilson will continue to dominate at home like he's been ever since he took over under center. With a 20-2 mark in front of the home crowd, Wilson will put a few shaky performances behind him in a convincing triumph.
The Seahawks, who went 6-2 in their last eight games a year ago, must keep up with Arizona in the NFC West, and New York's the perfect opponent.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Seahawks 31, Giants 17
11/09 11:02:22 ET