Giants can stymie Seattle's division title for another week
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If everything works out right for the Seattle Seahawks, this weekend will be the dry run to MetLife Stadium.
With a little help, the Seahawks (11-2) will win the NFC West and nail down the No. 1 seed in the conference with a victory over the New York Giants (5-8) and losses by San Francisco and New Orleans.
If that happens, the road to the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold weather city will go through Seattle, where the Seahawks have not lost this season.
Quarterback Russell Wilson didn't want to look that far down the road.
"The focus at this point is just go 1-0," he said. "We're playing a good team in the Giants. We know that the record doesn't show everything that they can do. They've been doing a great job in terms of their defense and making plays. Obviously that's our goal, is to win the NFC West and get first place, but to get there we've got to take the first step first."
The steps were to have a good week of practice and then play a little better than last week in a 19-17 defeat at the 49ers (9-4).
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn't want to discuss a second trip to the Meadowlands. However, he liked the idea of a cold-weather title game.
"I think the game of football has always been subject to weather and conditions and settings and all that," he said. "We don't know what it's going to be like, but it might be classic. It might be a classic setting for a great matchup. We'll see what happens."
The Giants already know their future. They pretty much knew it after losing the first six games. A four-game winning streak gave them some hope of a miracle comeback, but losses to Dallas on Nov. 24 and the Chargers last Sunday ended their playoff hopes for the fourth time in five seasons.
"Obviously we still have three games to go, starting obviously with the No. 1 team coming here to our house," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "We've still got a lot to play for. For us, it turns to going out there and being accountable for what we need to do, and that's to try to win these three and go into the offseason with some kind of respectability and a good feeling, hopefully, heading into next year."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said his team won't just play out the string, and his players backed him up.
"Every time you go out there and put on this uniform and put on this Giants helmet, you represent the people that played before, you represent the people that are going to play after you, so you want to be able to understand that this organization and this team is built around -- pride and character -- and that's what you want to exude no matter what the scoreboard is, no matter what the record," said receiver Victor Cruz.
Five things to know about the Seahawks game with the Giants:
Rediscover Beast Mone
It's a nitpick because Seattle has won two of its last three in convincing fashion, but the Seahawks could use better production from its run game. Carroll says it's not a major concern, but Seattle has failed to top 100 yards rushing as a team in two of the last three games. Seattle had just one first down by rush against San Francisco. Running back Marshawn Lynch has been in a slump, gaining 54 yards against Minnesota, 45 against New Orleans and 72 versus the 49ers.
Keep the ball
The difference between 11-2 and a potential No. 1 seed in the conference and 5-8 and out of the playoff picture might be turnovers. Seattle has 28 takeaways -- No. 2 in the league -- and it is plus-12 for the season. The Giants have given up ball up 34 times and have a minus-13 differential.
Seattle's always going to be a challenge to beat at home, but the Seahawks have proven this season to be almost as good on the road. Sunday will be Seattle's final chance at a franchise-record sixth road victory. Seattle won five road games in 2005 and 1984, but has never gone 6-2 away from home.
Cruzing and not Cruzing
Despite being double-covered most of the season in an offense that has struggled, Cruz needs just 27 yards for his third straight 1,000-yard season. Fellow wideout Hakeem Nicks was hoping for a big year with his contract due to expire, but has yet to catch a touchdown. Both will be facing the NFL's top-ranked pass defense.
While most people know Carroll as the Seahawks coach and the architect of one of Southern California's most successful runs prior to that, he spent five seasons at the Meadowlands. The first four (1990-93) he was the Jets' defensive coordinator, then worked one as their head coach, being fired after a 6-10 season. "It's been a long time since that all was pertinent, that's ancient history if you go back to the Jet days," Carroll said. "It's still fun to go to New York. New York's a great place to play."
Especially next February.
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