The New York Giants aim for their fifth straight victory on Sunday when they travel across the country to face the Seattle Seahawks in Week 8 of the 2022 NFL season. Here are some of the things to watch this week.
Testing the formula
The Giants have established their winning formula over the first seven games.
Control the pace of play — they are 28th in the league in time between offensive plays (28.66 seconds) and fifth in time of possession (31:09). Keep the game close — every Giants game this season has been decided by one score — and capitalize on opponents’ late mistakes. Along with those, keep the score down — no one has scored more than 27 points in a Giant game this year, and the combined point total for both teams has never gone above 49.
That formula is going to be tested this week.
Seattle is No. 5 in the NFL in points per game (26.1). They have scored 48, 32, 19, and 37 points in their last four games. The Seahawks are second in total points (183), ninth in total yards (2,540), tied for second in yards per play (6.3), seventh in net yards per pass attempt (6.8), eighth in rushing yards (960), No. 1 in the league in yards per rushing attempt (5.5), fourth in the league in percentage of drives ending in a score (46.0), and seventh in expected points added on offense (51.57).
In other words, this is the most prolific offense the Giants have faced this season. Can the Giants, as they have all season, dictate terms? Or, are they going to have to play at a faster pace and score more points?
Geno Smith is the Seahawks’ quarterback. Eight years after the last time he was a full-time NFL starter, which was in 2014 with the New York Jets, Smith is having an incredible season for Seattle. See Mark Schofield’s piece on Smith for insight on what Smith has done this season.
Giants fans remember Smith, of course, because he was the quarterback who started for the Giants on Dec. 3, 2017 — ending Eli Manning’s streak of 210 consecutive games started.
That, of course, angered much of the fan base and was at least in part responsible for the in-season firings of coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. Smith, honestly, was and is blameless in the situation. It’s not his fault he was stuck in the middle of the mess.
It’s water under the bridge, but I believed then and still believe now that this was McAdoo at his vindictive worst. He knew he had lost the locker room and was likely to be fired. I have always believed Manning was the quarterback he had, not the quarterback he wanted, and that he made a conscious decision to take Manning’s streak down with him.
The Giants keep winning — and keep getting scoffed at by Las Vegas oddsmakers. They are again underdogs, the fourth week in a row that has been the case. This time, the 3-point spread is understandable. The Seahawks are a good team, leading the NFC West at 4-3. The Giants are traveling across the country to a place that is notoriously loud and difficult for visiting teams.
The environment, and the opponent, will be a stern test for the surprising Giants.
Checkin’ out Charles
It turned out to be untrue, but there was a good deal of speculation prior to the 2022 NFL Draft that the Giants were targeting offensive tackle Charles Cross with one of their two picks in the top seven. At No. 7 the Giants took right tackle Evan Neal, who had some early struggles, played better in recent weeks and is now on the shelf for a while with a knee injury.
Cross was selected by the Seahawks two picks later, No. 9 overall.
Cross has started all seven games and played all 433 offensive snaps for Seattle thus far. His Pro Football Focus grade of 60.0 places him No. 50 among 62 qualifying tackles. Ikem Ekwonu, who went No. 6 to the Carolina Panthers, is playing left tackle and is No. 42 at 64.3. Neal is No. 59 at 49.8.
The pass-blocking stats break down like this for the three tackles:
- Ekwonu — 243 pass-blocking snaps, 63.6 PFF grades, 3 sacks, 12 total pressures allowed.
- Cross — 264 pass-blocking snaps, 66.4 PFF grade, 3 sacks, 16 total pressures allowed.
- Neal — 236 pass-blocking snaps, 53.1 PFF grade, 5 sacks, 3 hits, 16 total pressures allowed.
Make whatever you want from those numbers, but those are the early returns.
Nick Gates is back! Hooray! [Full story]
The Giants don’t need to make a corresponding roster move to add Gates, since the roster was at 52 players. The Giants do, though, have some decisions to make.
With Daniel Bellinger expected to miss several weeks, if not the remainder of the season, the Giants have tight end issues. The only healthy tight ends on the roster are Chris Myarick and Tanner Hudson. It seems likely that at some point the Giants will have to put Bellinger on injured reserve, likely signing Lawrence Cager off the practice squad to complete the tight end depth chart.
Coach Brian Daboll has said that the team won’t put Kadarius Toney on IR, and perhaps we see him back at practice after the Week 9 bye. The Giants can’t carry Toney and Kenny Golladay on the 53-man roster long-term if they can’t play, so perhaps something will be done there soon.
It also seems as though safety Landon Collins will be added to the 53-man roster eventually after his 23-snap debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars as a practice squad elevation.