What to watch for when the Seahawks host the Giants in Week 8 — plus Bob Condotta’s prediction

There will be no clash of styles when the Seahawks and the Giants face off Sunday at Lumen Field at 1:25 pm

Instead, this is a battle of two teams thriving lately thanks to running games among the best in the NFL. The Giants are second overall in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 173.4, one of the biggest factors in New York’s surprising 6-1 start, while the Seahawks have averaged 169.6 in going 3-2 in their last five games, ranking fourth in the league in that span.

They’re two teams also getting MVP-caliber play from their quarterbacks, each among the most surprising players in the league this year — Geno Smith and the Daniel Jones.

Which running games and QBs continue playing to the levels they have so far figure to make the difference Sunday — especially so for Seattle if receiver DK Metcalf, who injured his knee against the Chargers, can’t play.

Let’s take a closer look with our weekly keys to the game and prediction.

Matchup to watch

New York Giants QB Daniel Jones running against the Seattle defense

Officially, the Seahawks are seventh in the NFL in rushing yards allowed to QBs at 151. But that doesn’t include the 112 yards three weeks ago to New Orleans’ Taysom Hill, who is listed as a tight end. Throw those into Seattle’s total, and it tops the NFL. And now the Seahawks face Jones, whose 343 yards are the third-most of any QB behind Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Chicago’s Justin Fields and is coming off a career-high 107 rushing yards against Jacksonville.

Hill’s success against Seattle came the week before the Seahawks changed their philosophy to more of a one-gap scheme than two-gap — meaning the defensive front can attack a gap at the snap instead of reading-and-reacting — and it will be interesting to see if that changes anything. But the Seahawks will simply need to be disciplined up front to not allow open holes for Jones.

Player to watch

RB Kenneth Walker III

The rookie running back has been everything the Seahawks could have hoped for and more in his first two starts replacing the injured Rashaad Penny, with 264 yards combined, including 167 against the Chargers. He needs 129 yards to pass Shaun Alexander for the most yards in team history in a running back’s first three starts. He’s also already up to 18th in the NFL with 410 yards and is tied for third in yards per carry at 6.1 — the same as Penny before he was injured. And now he goes up against a Giants defense allowing 5.7 yards per carry, highest in the NFL. This could be another big day for Walker, which Seattle may need to compensate for the potential loss of Metcalf to fend off Jones, Saquon Barkley and the Giants offense.

Coaching decision to watch

Early offensive aggressiveness

So, remember when the Seahawks were known for their slow starts and fast finishes? After scoring 17 points in the first quarter last week against the Chargers the Seahawks now lead the NFL in points scored in the first quarter with 61, or 8.7 per game — more than they have scored in any other quarter, and barely fewer than the 82 the Seahawks had in the first quarter for all of the 2021 season, when Seattle averaged 4.8 per game. And being aggressive offensively was a key last week — Smith had 10 of his 27 pass attempts for the game in the first quarter last week, completing five for 76 yards and a TD. Might Seattle try to strike quickly again at home?

The X-factor

How will the Seahawks handle the Giants’ defensive aggression?

As noted by Pro Football Focus, no team in the NFL blitzes more than the Giants under veteran coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, sending an extra rusher 45.7% of snaps. That hasn’t necessarily resulted in a big difference in traditional stats — the Giants have 13 sacks, more than just 11 teams, although four are by nose tackle Dexter Lawrence, who is playing at an All-Pro level. But count on the Giants to really try to test Seattle’s rookie tackles, especially with rush end Kayvon Thibodeaux, a rookie from Oregon, who has been progressing the last few weeks. Seattle’s offensive communication up front — something that has been an underrated key to the team’s success this season — will need to be up to the task.

Player who could surprise

Linebacker Darrell Taylor

Playing in a more limited role and officially as a non-starter has seemed to help Taylor in recent weeks — he has not been an official starter since the third game of the season and used mostly in passing situations. But Taylor has responded to record a sack and forced fumble each of the past two weeks, with his strip sack and recovery against the Chargers leading to a field goal. He’s had five of his 12 pressures for the season the last two weeks and had his two best grades of the year when he’s played 63 snaps — all but nine in passing situations. The Giants pass only 47% of the time, the 29th lowest percentage in the NFL, so Taylor may not get as many snaps as some others. But Seattle will need him to again make those count.

Key stat

Winning the close ones

If there’s a question about the Giants’ 6-1 start, it’s that New York has been relying on winning the close ones. Consider that the Giants are the third team ever to have six wins by eight points or fewer in their first seven games (the others being the 2000 Minnesota Vikings and 1998 New Orleans Saints). True, running well and not turning it over much (the Giants are sixth in the NFL with a plus-three turnover margin) are huge contributors to winning close ones. But that’s also something that’s hard to do every week. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are 2-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less this year, and 2-1 in games decided by 10 or more. The Giants, meanwhile, are one of just seven teams this year not to win a game by more than one score (eight points).


Seahawks 27, Giants 24

It may be time to accept that the Seahawks are a good team. The Giants are, too, and if Seattle doesn’t have Metcalf then their offense will have a greater challenge. But the home field — and potentially inclement weather that might favor a run-heavy attack, as well as a feeling that maybe the Giants’ propensity for winning the close ones may be about to run out — has us leaning Seattle.

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