Countdown to kickoff: Seahawks at Giants

Posted Dec 15, 2013

The Seahawks put their NFL-best 11-2 record on the line Sunday when they play the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, where the weather could be a factor in the outcome.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Greetings from MetLife Stadium where the weather outside is, well, not as frightful as it could have been – or was here on Saturday.

The forecast is calling for temperatures in the high 30’s, with a chance of rain, not the snow that fell Saturday.


Giants LT Will Beatty: Giants QB Eli Manning has been sacked a career-high 33 times. Beatty has allowed a career-high and also team-leading 10 sacks.  Speed rushers have given the 6-foot-6, 319-pound Beatty the most trouble this season. Which leads us to …

Seahawks DE Cliff Avril: The free-agent addition not only leads the Seahawks with 7.5 sacks, he also has forced four fumbles, giving him 20 for his career. Avril getting to Manning early also could get into Beatty’s head.

So, can the 11-2 Seahawks be fruitful against a 5-8 New York Giants team they should beat, but also a disappointing and disappointed Giants team that is viewing this matchup as an opportunity to salvage something from their season – and prove they’re not as bad a team as their record indicates?

Also in question is how the Seahawks will handle the elements, as well as the Giants.

The players don’t seem fazed by either.

Of the weather, All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas said, “I’ve been there before (the 2010 divisional playoff game against the Bears), so that’s a plus. It was kind of distracting at first, but you kind of get past it. I’m glad I had an opportunity to be in that kind of environment before, so it can prepare me for this game if it does snow.”  

Of the opponent, and refocusing after last week’s loss to the 49ers in San Francisco, quarterback Russell Wilson said, “In terms of refocusing for the Giants after last week’s loss, it’s no different. Our goal is to go 1-0 every week, have a championship mentality and make sure that the preparation is where it needs to be. We’ve done a great job so far this week. We know that we’re playing a good football team, even if their record doesn’t show it.

“So we expect a battle. We expect a great game. And we expect to go up there and play our best football, and that’s what we need to do. So that’s what our focus is, it’s playing one game at a time like it’s been all year. That’s why we’re 11-2 right now, because we’ve been focused on one game at a time, having a championship week, championship preparation. And we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Where the Seahawks go from here is home, as their final two regular-season games will be played at CenturyLink Field – next Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals and Dec. 29 against the St. Louis Rams. Whether they need to win both those games to assure having a NFC West championship to go with a season’s worth of championship preparation depends on what happens Sunday.

The Seahawks have a two-game lead over the two-time defending division champion San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks could have wrapped up the division and a first-round bye in the playoffs by dispatching the 49ers last week, but fell just short in a 19-17 loss.

So here they are, on the road for one last time in the regular season – looking for a victory that would be a franchise-record sixth, and a victory that will keep the pressure on the 49ers.

If the weather is indeed as much a factor as the Giants – be it wind, rain, even a lingering snow flurry, or a mixture – the Seahawks are equipped to handle it with a running game that is ranked third in the NFL.

“The running game is really important,” coach Pete Carroll said after Friday’s practice, which was held in chilly weather and a thick mist at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “It’s important down the stretch and it’s always been part of the formula that we have it when we need it, and this is the kind of potential conditions where it could be very important.

“There’s no question that the ball is really the big issue when the weather is bad. Whether you’re trying to take care of it in the running game or whether you’re throwing it. Certainly that works on the other side. The running game is pivotal, and we have to get that thing going and make sure that it is available to us. We can’t emphasize it more than we do, but it would be awesome if it’s a factor when needed. That’s why it’s all a big part of this formula.”

While the Seahawks are averaging 141.5 rushing yards and feature Marshawn Lynch (1,042 yards, a 4.3-yard average and 10 rushing touchdowns), the Giants are averaging 105.4 rushing yards per game, 3.7 per carry and have 10 rushing TDs – as a team. The flipside is that the Giants’ defense ranks No. 11 against the run, allowing averages of 88 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry; while the Seahawks’ defense gave up a 51-yard run to Frank Gore last week to setup the 49ers’ game-winning field goal with 26 left after the offense had kicked a go-ahead field goal.

It is against this statistical backdrop, and in this weather, that the Seahawks will try to push their overall record to 12-2 and their road record to 6-2.

So sit back and enjoy, with kickoff and televised coverage on FOX (Q/13 in Seattle) set for 10 a.m.