Taking a look at three matchups that could make the difference in Sunday’s game against the Giants. John Boyle
The Giants come to Seattle with a 4-7 record, but the Seahawks know they can't take this week's opponent lightly. For starters, the Giants are very motivated, because in a down year for the NFC East, that record is good enough for a first-place tie, so they're very motivated. And the Giants have also won three in a row behind the play of a very good defense, a committed running game and a big shift in their turnover differential-New York was minus-5 in turnover differential through eight games and is plus-7 during its three-game winning streak.
"Under Coach (Joe) Judge they're a tough, committed football team, in terms of special teams, the way they're playing defense, really playing good up front and it fits," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "You've heard me talk about it a lot, it's the running game that really brings it all together. They look like a team, at this early stage in his coaching there, that has made the commitment to be physical and tough."
If the Seahawks are going to earn their ninth victory of the year and improve to 6-0 at Lumen Field, these are three key matchups that could make the difference in Sunday's game:
1. Seahawks WR DK Metcalf vs. Giants CB James Bradberry.
DK Metcalf, who currently leads the NFL with 1,039 receiving yards after another big performance in Monday's win over the Eagles, has faced a number of Pro-Bowl and All-Pro cornerbacks this year, including New England's Stephon Gilmore, Arizona's Patrick Peterson, L.A.'s Jalen Ramsey and Philadelphia's Darius Slay, and Metcalf will face another tough matchup Sunday in Giants cornerback James Bradberry.
As Judge told reporters in New York this week when asked about Metcalf, "You don't have a lot of guys walking the earth like him."
But Bradberry, who leads the Giants with 15 passes defensed and three interceptions, has frequently faced some of the NFL's top big receivers like Atlanta's Julio Jones and New Orleans' Michael Thomas while playing for the Carolina Panthers.
"(When) I was in the NFC South, I had to deal with a lot of big physical receivers that could run," Bradberry said, via Giants.com. "I would say he is similar to their skill set. Physical, 6-4, runs a 4.3. He can run. He's definitely a hard matchup. Definitely a challenge for us Sunday.
"He went against an elite cornerback in Darius Slay. I have a lot of respect for him. I just saw a physical guy that was strong, and he pretty much won a lot of 50/50 balls. When you're a physical, big receiver, the quarterback is going to give you leeway and throw it up to you. You have to go up there and make a play."
2. Giants TE Evan Egram vs Seahawks S Jamal Adams
So far Adams' biggest impact has come as a pass rusher, with the safety recording a team-leading 6.5 sacks in his first seven games as a Seahawk, but as Carroll noted this week, Adams' coverage skills will be needed this weekend against one of the fastest tight ends in the league, former first-round pick Evan Engram.
Engram hasn't put up huge numbers this season, but is coming off of a big game with six catches for 129 yards, including a 53 yard reception.
Adams, meanwhile, is coming off of his best performance of the year, and on Sunday will look to show the coverage skills that sometimes get overshadowed by his unique talents as blitzer.
"He's a tremendously fast tight end," Carroll said. "He's got great speed, very athletic, as natural as you can get, running routes, getting out of breaks, running with the ball after catch, catching the football. He's a fantastic talent and so he does cause problems. When we play tight ends of that kind of makeup or similar where they're really obviously good, I like it-we got great matchup and Jamal's going to be a matchup for anybody. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy, it's going to be very difficult and all that, because he brings that, but we do feel like we match up well."
3. Chris Carson and the Seahawks run game vs. New York's run defense.
The Seahawks can do plenty of damage on offense with the passing game alone, but for as good as the Seahawks are with Russell Wilson throwing to DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and company, they're even better with the run game complementing that aerial attack. And now that Chris Carson is back from a foot injury-and expected to see more touches than last week, according to Carroll-the Seahawks will likely look to beat the Giants with a balanced attack on Sunday.
Getting that running game going won't be easy, however, thanks to a Giants defense that allows 95.4 rushing yards per game, fifth best in the NFL, and just 3.9 yards per carry (seventh).
"This is a really good run defense," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "They're really big inside, they've got a lot of size. The linebackers do a nice job of dissecting runs, and (Blake) Martinez a really good football player. So it's another good challenge. Each and every week you face these defenses that have a handful of names, and the Giants have their names, but it's just a really sound, well-coached group that will be a very difficult opponent."