NYGMen was contacted this week by Michael Steffes, creator and lead writer of the Seahawks blog, Seahawkaddicts.com.  The following is Steffes’ take on Sunday’s game.

Hello Giants fans, my name is Michael Steffes and I am the creator and lead writer for a fairly popular Seahawks fan blog called Seahawk Addicts.  Greg and I have agreed to trade some analysis about our respective teams this week in order to give our readers some greater insight into this matchup.  

But before I get into my analysis of this year’s incarnation of the Seahawks, I wanted to talk to you all about a controversy that was stirred up this week.  Many of you may have heard or read about a different Seahawks site that posted a despicable attempt at smack talk.  I am not going to go into the specifics of what was said (if you are unfamiliar with what I speak, it’s for the better), but it was nauseating.  What I wanted to say on this subject was that every Seahawks fan I know, including all of the readers of our site, were universally disgusted with what this one fan said.  It was appalling.  Every fanbase has its idiots, but this person represents the smallest minority of Seahawks fans.   So from all of us true Seahawk fans, we apologize to anyone who was hurt by those comments.

Now, let’s move on to the 2008 Seahawks.  Currently the Hawks have a record of 1-2, which represents less than the standard they have set over recent years.  However, I caution you that this team is actually better than the team that was fielded in ’06 and ‘07, they’ve just been the struck with terrible luck.  The team has been playing this year without their top 5 WRs.  Never have I seen the injury bug decimate one position like this before–imagine the Giants with Sinorice Moss as their top wideout and you can see what we have been suffering through. 

Despite this, the team should probably be 2-1, but they lost in overtime to the SF 49ers in a game where they just couldn’t catch a break from either the officials or the football gods.  There were two interceptions on tipped balls and a Seahawk interception in the end zone was negated by a call the officials debated for several minutes.   Sometimes it just isn’t your day.

Because of their losing record, the Seahawks will come in as a desperate team.  They have a very hard stretch of games following this one (GB, Tampa, @SF, Philly).  They need to even their record, but this will be a hard task.  Historically, they are terrible after the bye with a record of 2-6 under Holmgren.  Also, they are notorious for struggling on the East Coast at 10 AM.  The good news is that the bye week has allowed them to get back two of their top wideouts, Deion Branch and Bobby Engram.  Starting RT Sean Locklear is also back.  Ray Willis played well in Locklear’s absence, but he isn’t the pass protector that Locklear is, and the Hawks will need his skills if they hope to contain Justin Tuck.  How much the returning receivers can help remains to be seen, but expectations are low since it will likely take a game or two for them to get back into top form. 

One thing that is new about the Hawks this year is their running game, which currently ranks 3rd in the NFL.  As Giants fans you have seen a lot of Julius Jones over the years and probably weren’t too impressed.  However, he seems to have a new lease on life with the Seahawks and has willed himself to some big games in weeks two and three.  He is breaking tackles and moving the chains, which is a pleasant change of scenery for Seahawks fans.  Shaun Alexander stopped running hard after winning the MVP in 2005, and as a result often left the Hawks in 2nd and 3rd and long situations.  Jones’ best contribution may be keeping the Hawks on schedule, even when the big gains aren’t there.  The team also added TJ Duckett, who is 100% so far this year in short yardage situations.  The Hawks were one of the worst teams in the league over the last two years at converting on short yardage.  They lost a couple of games simply because they couldn’t manage to gain a yard when they most needed it.  The running game faces its biggest test so far this year in the Giants’ run defense.  As Hawk fans, we are using this game as a measuring stick for how far the ground game has really come.

Defensively, the Seahawks have great personnel.  However, they really haven’t put it all together yet.  The front seven has been very good this year.  You probably know the fancy Pro Bowl names like Julian Peterson, Lofa Tatupu, and Patrick Kerney, but the two players that really drive the run defense are fourth year linebacker Leroy Hill and second year defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.  Both are budding stars whose names you are likely to hear often on Sunday.  They have handled some good backs so far this year, and while the Giants are great at running the football, I expect that the Hawks will keep their running game in check.

This leaves the secondary.  A week ago I would have told you that Burress was going to destroy the Hawks, as they typically have a lot of trouble with big, physical wide receivers.  However, now that he is suspended, the Hawks match up much better.  This same group allowed the fewest TD passes in the league last year, and typically does well against smaller, quicker receivers.  The real weakness of this group seems to be 3rd and long.  For some reason they allow far too many 3rd and long conversions.  Part of this is because of some predictable tendencies in defensive coordinator John Marshall’s play calling.  When he blitzes he often sends seven guys, but when he isn’t blitzing he prefers a soft two-deep coverage which allows receivers too much space.  When Marshall’s play calling is hot this defense can’t be stopped, but when he is off this defense disappoints.  I expect the Seahawks’ defense to focus on stopping the run to try to make the Giants’ receivers beat them.  Unfortunately for the Seahawks, it is not out of the question that Toomer and company will manage does just that, especially if the Hawks can’t get pressure on Eli Manning, something they will need if they hope to win.  The Seahawks pass rush tends to be non-existent on the road.  However, if they are getting to Manning I believe they have a shot at winning this game.

Overall, I expect to see a defensive struggle, simply because Eli is missing Plax, the Hawks are good against the run, and the Seattle offense will need time for the returning players at wide receiver to get up to speed.   I am not bold enough to predict a Seahawks victory at 10am PST on the East Coast against the defending Super Bowl Champs, but I do think the Hawks desperation to get a win will make it a good game.  I wish I could be more optimistic about the Hawks chances, but I have seen them fall flat in too many similar games. I am taking the Giants 20-17.  My thanks to Greg for giving me the opportunity to share with  all of you, and may the best team win this Sunday (and both stay healthy in the process!).