Orleans Darkwa will rush for 100 yards against the Seahawks.
John Smeelk – Fiction:The Giants will run for 100 yards as a team, but I don’t believe Orleans Darkwa will get 100 yards as an individual. Last week, the plan was for Darkwa and Gallman to split carries, but Darkwa ended up getting a lot more because he got the hot hand. There’s a chance that Gallman is the hot player this week. Darkwa’s overall numbers last week were boosted by a big 47-yard run, which will be hard to repeat.
Dan Salomone – Fiction: I think they’ll reach 100 as a team for the third week in a row, but I’m not ready to say Darkwa will get it alone again. True, he has set career highs in back-to-back games with 117 yards last week and 69 the week before as the Giants have gone to a run-heavy approach. But the Seahawks will plan for that. I actually think you could see Wayne Gallman come back into the fold a little more this week and provide a change of pace.
Lance Medow – Fiction: The Seahawks haven’t been as effective in stopping the run this season as compared to previous campaigns. They rank 26th in the league, allowing 127 rushing yards per game. Two players have run for over 100 yards against Seattle this season: San Francisco’s Carlos Hyde (124, Week 2) and Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray (115, Week 3). But since then, Frank Gore and Todd Gurley have failed to reach 50 rushing yards against the Seahawks in each of the last two games. Orleans Darkwa is coming off a career performance (117 yards on 21 carries) against the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL, but keep in mind 47 of those yards came on one run. While I think the Giants will continue to lean on the run game this week and Darkwa’s workload will be similar, I also think the Seahawks will anticipate that much more than the Broncos did, meaning they’ll focus on containing Darkwa. So I can see him falling short of the century mark.
Richard Sherman is the best defensive back the Giants face this season.
John Smeelk – Fiction: Sherman is close to being the best, but the Giants play so many great cornerbacks this year I am not willing to give him the crown. They already faced Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. Josh Norman is still on the schedule. So is Marcus Peters. The guy I will anoint is Patrick Peterson. The Giants will play him on Christmas Eve and I think he is the best cornerback on the schedule. He’ll play more man-to-man than Sherman and, historically, he has followed players around more in the Cardinals’ defensive scheme than Sherman has in Seattle.
Dan Salomone – Fact: There are a bunch of fancy metrics out there these days, but here are some tried-and-true statistics: 30 interceptions, 94 passes defensed. Since 2011, Sherman leads the NFL in both those categories. There are plenty of elite DB’s on the schedule this year, but Sherman edges them out just because of his consistency and what he has meant for a perennial powerhouse on defense. As we’ve seen, it’s difficult to maintain an elite defense two years in a row, let alone five or six.
Lance Medow – Fiction: The Giants have faced and will continue to see some of the most talented defensive backs in the NFL this season. You can easily make a case for a few different players, including Richard Sherman. I think Sherman is one of best, but I wouldn’t put him atop the list because of more versatile players, especially Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson and Sherman’s teammate, safety Earl Thomas, who leads the Seahawks with four passes defensed and also has an interception and a forced fumble this season. Bucs corner Brent Grimes, the Chargers’ Casey Heyward, and Aqib Talib and Chris Harris of the Broncos all belong in the conversation as well.
Evan Engram will lead the team in both receptions and receiving yards vs. Seattle.
John Smeelk – Fiction: Can I reserve the right to change this to “Fact” if Sterling Shepard doesn’t play? If Shepard doesn’t go, Engram should lead the Giants in both unless Shane Vereen catches a lot of dump-offs on third down. Of course, if the Giants’ gameplan goes the way they hope, Vereen won’t have a ton of those opportunities. Seattle’s Cover 3 is vulnerable down the seams and in the short flat area, but they have excellent players (Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas) who will be responsible for the tight end.
Dan Salomone – Fact: Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall aren’t coming back. Sterling Shepard is still questionable with an ankle injury. Engram has the skill as well as the opportunity to be the main target for the foreseeable future.
Lance Medow – Fiction: Evan Engram accomplished this feat last Sunday against the Broncos mainly because no Giants wide receiver had more than one catch. Just like the Seahawks will take notice of Orleans Darkwa because of last week’s production, the same can be said for Engram, and Seattle has been very effective against tight ends this season, mainly because it has safeties and linebackers who match up well with that position. No opposing tight end has led his respective team in receiving yards against the Seahawks this season. The most Seattle has allowed is 43 to Green Bay’s Martellus Bennett in Week 1, and the most receptions a tight end has collected is five by the Colts’ Jack Doyle in Week 4, but he only totaled 27 yards. I think Engram will lead the team in receptions, but I don’t think he’ll top the list in receiving yards.
Containing Russell Wilson is the Giants’ top priority in this game.
John Smeelk – Fact: Russell Wilson is not as good a player as Aaron Rodgers is, but he is nearly as much of a one-man show when it comes to the Seahawks offense. Their offensive line has struggled all year, and they have had issues running the ball consistently. They have Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin but no superstars for him to target. Wilson will extend plays and get outside the pocket to pass, or he will run if the defense fails to keep contain. He is very accurate on the move, especially down the field. If the Giants slow him down, the Seahawks should have problems scoring. SALOMONE
Dan Salomone – Fact: Things will go south in a hurry if Wilson is able to run free on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Our own Paul Dottino had a great question for Damon Harrison this week in the locker room. He asked the All-Pro defensive tackle about quarterbacks who run for yardage versus those who run to buy time. Harrison replied by saying Wilson does both. And just today, coach Ben McAdoo called the quarterback “deadly” when he’s creating on his own. Wilson will be a big test for this defense.
Lance Medow – Fact: Russell Wilson is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL because of his ability to extend plays with his legs. He is second on the team in rushing yards. Thanks to his mobility, the Seahawks can turn what should have been a broken play into a noticeable gain. The Giants are going to have to stay disciplined on defense with respect to their assignments or else Wilson will continue to find ways to move the chains. Case in point, when they last faced Wilson in 2014, he collected 107 yards on 14 runs and Seattle had 350 rushing yards as a team. The Seahawks’ offense hasn’t been explosive this season, but if Wilson gets comfortable outside the pocket, the big plays will soon follow.