If you predicted that Week 8 would see just one game between two teams with winning records, and that those two teams would be the Seahawks and Giants, well then come on down and collect your prize!
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And give us next week’s lotto numbers while you’re at it.
Sure, some fans of either team always had faith (and a couple NFL voices have been proponents of Geno Smith) but few saw a former NFL backup embracing a starting role, becoming one of the NFL’s best passers through seven weeks, and leading his team to a first-place spot in the division. Nor did many see the hapless Giants with a 6-1 record and a career year from Daniel Jones.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of this one:
The Giants aren’t beating the rest of the league with one of the best arms. Jones isn’t bad by means; in fact, he’s having a career year (more on that next). But the real weapon for this Giants team has been Saquon Barkley.
The Giants are the No. 2 rushing offense in the league, averaging 173 yards on the ground per game thanks to a season from Barkley that has him as the league’s second-leading rusher. Barkley has already rushed for 726 yards. He’s surpassed 100 rush yards in three games, but he’s also their top-targeted receiver. With receiving yards accounted for, he’s failed to surpass 100 all-purpose yards just twice and has yet to be held to fewer than 80 yards.
The key to stopping the Giants? Limit the run and put pressure on Jones (easy, right?). The Giants got their rushing yardage against the Cowboys earlier this year, but Dallas dealt them a loss by blocking a field goal attempt, sacking Jones five times, and picking him off with a minute remaining to stave off a comeback attempt.
Look, stopping Barkley is easier said than done. No team has been able to fend off the Giant ground game for long. On the plus side, the Seahawks, who have had a porous run defense through the first few weeks of the season, have more recently improved up front against the Cardinals and Chargers. But considering the Cardinals were down two healthy running backs and the Chargers didn’t rush Austin Ekeler often after falling behind, Week 8 bring the biggest test yet for Seattle’s defenders.
Jones, who has been through three head coaches in four years, had a promising rookie campaign, but he’s got a career high four fourth quarter comebacks and five game-winning drives so far.
Consider how the Giants have won a few of these:
• Week 1 : A touchdown pass and successful two-point conversion with 1:06 remaining against the Titans. They took over with nearly five-and-a-half minutes remaining and ran off 12 plays, including a two-yard scramble from Jones to convert on fourth down.
• Week 2: Tied 16-all with 10:46 remaining in the fourth, the Giants strung together a 12-play field goal drive to take the final lead over the Panthers. Carolina didn’t get the ball back until 3:38 remained.
• Week 5: Tied at 20, a two-yard touchdown run from Saquon Barkley with just over six minutes remaining.
• Week 6: Giants are down 24-17 but Barkley punches it in with a one-yard touchdown run with 1:43 remaining.
”The Giants have been a money team in the fourth quarter and Daniel Jones specifically has been a money quarterback in the fourth quarter,” The Ringer’s John Jastresmski said on this week’s The Huddle. “I really am surprised with what they’ve been able to do considering that you look around the talent base offensively, (and) outside of Saquon Barkley, there’s not much to be working with here. So they’re finding ways to score, Jones is making plays with his legs, and it’s been really fun to watch.”
This defense will have its hands full with Barkley and Jones, but Seattle’s ground game packs a punch, too. And it may be the greatest opportunity for a Seahawks win.
The Seahawks defense has allowed the third-most rushing yards this year. Who’s in there right behind them? That would be New York, who are allowing a whopping 5.7 yards per carry (worst in the NFL). Meanwhile, Seattle rookie running back Ken Walker is coming off a 167-yard performance against the Chargers.
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