Riding a four-game win streak into last week’s bye, the barbarians along the Giants’ defensive line will sink their hands into the dirt against a Seattle team that can be physically overwhelmed (4:05 p.m., FOX).
The Seahawks (4-3) sit atop a lackluster NFC West despite being throttled during last week’s 33-3 loss to Oakland. Matt Hasselbeck was sacked eight times and the 26th-ranked Seattle defense allowed a 300-yard passer and 100-yard rusher in the defeat.
Leading the NFC in both offense and defense, the Giants (5-2) are working to improve their dismal 6-15 record after a bye, winning the games following the week off in the last two seasons.
Winless in Seattle
Distracted by Seattle’s crowd noise, Eli Manning has yet to win a game at Qwest Field, throwing a combined four picks and five scores in the Giants’ losses there in 2005 and 2006. Although the Seahawks don’t leap off the page in any particular category, they’re undefeated at home and opportunistic enough to linger in close games. The ’Hawks defense is 16th in the league in takeaways, led by rookie safety Earl Thomas’ four interceptions, while the Giants have turned the ball over 21 times this season.
No lanes for Leon
At only 5-foot-8, Seahawks kick returner Leon Washington stands as Seattle’s most volatile scoring threat, leading the NFL with a 33.7-yard kick return average. The G-Men are among the stingiest teams in return coverage, obstructing returners for a 19.9-yard average on 31 kickoffs despite only six touchbacks. Most impressively, Lawrence Tynes’ 66.1 yards per kickoff is good for only 15th in the league, meaning the Giants’ kick coverage is stifling returns quickly.
Softer ground in Seattle
The Seahawks 10th-ranked rush defense received a huge blow this week when defensive end Red Bryant was placed on injured reserve after hurting his knee against Oakland. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs should find less resistance from the Seahawks without the 323-pound Bryant, keeping the Giants’ NFC-best rush attack moving against a team that’s allowed eight rushes of 20 yards or more.
Williams in a rhythm
The resurgent Mike Williams, resurrecting his career since rejoining former collegiate coach Pete Carroll, is finding his niche in Seattle after tumultuous tenures with Detroit, Oakland and Tennessee. With 210 of his team-high 375 receiving yards coming in two games, the Giants have to stop him from getting into a rhythm. He can open the field for tight end John Carlson and elusive running back Justin Forsett, who is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.