Three to Focus On – Seahawks @ Giants, Week 5

| October 7, 2011

Last week, the Seattle Seahawks couldn’t complete a nearly impossible comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. Now, instead of having won their second game in a row, they have to travel cross-country to face the New York Giants, as they are trying to avoid dropping to 1-4. On a positive note, Tarvaris Jackson and the offense has improved since the return of Sidney Rice, something which seemed altogether unlikely after they were shutout in week two.
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On the flip side, the New York Giants have now won three games in a row, and though last week may have been tighter than they would have liked, Eli Manning stepped up when it mattered most to lead them to yet another victory. Heading home, the Giants will likely be hoping to put on a more convincing display against another shaky NFC West opponent.
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Here are three things to keep your eye on in this game:
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1) Eli Manning vs. Seattle’s Cornerbacks
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During the offseason, much was made about Eli Manning’s belief that he was an “elite” quarterback. After watching a few of the Giant’s preseason games and hearing commentators using those comments against him at every possible opportunity. Not only did Manning play well in crucial situations last week, but he tops PFF’s accuracy under pressure signature stat; in 46 plays under pressure, Manning has completed 71% of his attempted passes. Given the fact that he will be facing a Seahawks secondary that looks vulnerable at both cornerback positions, it won’t be surprising if Manning’s success continues. Marcus Trufant (-4.2) and Brandon Browner (-5.7) have combined to let up a completion percentage of 69.7% and a league worst 666 yards allowed.
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2) Aaron Ross vs. Sidney Rice
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Last week, Aaron Ross followed his career best +3.6 performance with another solid game at +2.1, however it should be noted that it was  Corey Webster who covered Larry Fitzgerald for a majority of last week’s game. Nonetheless, against Arizona, Kevin Kolb didn’t target one of his 34 attempts in Ross’ direction. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues this week, as he could be lined up against Sidney Rice, who has quickly become Jackson’s favorite weapon. In his two games back in the Seahawks’ lineup, Rice has been targeted 16 times, which four more than any of the Seahawks’ other receivers. Rice is tied for the lead in PFF’s Drop Rate, as he has yet to drop a pass on any of the 11 “catchable” balls thrown his way.
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3) Giants D-Line vs. Seahawks O-Line
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The Giant’s defensive line got a big boost when Osi Umenyiora returned to the lineup. Now, the Giant’s defensive line has the luxury of using either Jason Pierre-Paul (+4.2), who already has five sacks and an additional 10 quarterback disruptions, or Umenyiora, who registered two sacks and another three pressures in his first game back. Of course it was fortunate for Osi that he faced an offensive line with more holes than a sponge, and this week should be just as easy for the veteran defensive end. The Seahawks’ offensive line is the 30th ranked team in PFF’s pass blocking efficiency rating, as they have allowed a total number of 51 disruptions (nine sacks, 18 hits, and 24 pressures) in 229 total plays.
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