THE SCOUTING REPORT
WHAT: Giants (5-2) vs. Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
WHEN: Today, 4:05 p.m. at Qwest Field, Seattle.
SERIES RECORD: The Giants lead the series 8-5, but have lost their last four in Seattle. Their 32-0 victory in 1981 in the Kingdome marked their last victory out there.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 5, 2008 at Giants Stadium. The 44-6 victory gave the Giants a 5-15 mark after bye weeks. They are currently 6-15 after byes. The 38-point margin of victory was the Giants' biggest since 1972. The Giants scored on their first six possessions and didn't punt until the third quarter. Plaxico Burress did not play because Tom Coughlin had suspended him for repeatedly missing practices. Instead, Domenik Hixon and Sinorice Moss got their first career touchdown receptions as Eli Manning went 19-of-25 for 267 yards and no interceptions. The Giants ran for 254 yards on the ground.
INJURIES: Giants – T Will Beatty (knee), C Shaun O'Hara (foot), and FB Madison Hedgecock (hamstring), and KR Darius Reynaud (hamstring) are out. DE Osi Umenyiora (knee), DE Dave Tollefson (illness), T Kareem McKenzie (illness), and LB Gerris Wilkinson (hand) are probable.
Seahawks – QB Matt Hasselbeck (concussion), DT Colin Cole (ankle), and WR Golden Tate (ankle) are out. T Russell Okung (ankle) is doubtful. FB Michael Robinson (hamstring), T Tylor Polumbus (knee), and DT Brandon Mebane (calf) are questionable. WR Mike Williams (knee) and T Chester Pitts (non-injury related) are probable.
WHY THE GIANTS WILL WIN: Quite simply, the Seahawks are a mess offensively. With Hasselbeck out, backup Charlie Whitehurst will be leading the offense, and he hasn't thrown a pass in an NFL game in five years. He's making his first career start, so the Giants will be disguising coverages and bringing the heat from all over the field. The mobile Whitehurst probably will be on the run much of the time because the Seahawks' line is also banged up and shuffled. That should allow penetration from Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Barry Cofield. And given that Whitehurst doesn't have the passing savvy of Hasselbeck, the defense can assume right away that he's going to be dumping a lot of balls off to Marshawn Lynch out of the backfield. The three-safety alignment of Deon Grant, Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips should be up to the task of stopping those, as well as making Whitehurst uncomfortable. The Giants have knocked out five quarterbacks in four games this year. If Whitehurst can't finish, the Seahawks will be left with promoted practice squad rookie Zac Robinson. The offense at all costs will have to stay away from turnovers. Between Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Brandon Jacobs, they committed five against Dallas and won, but they won't get away with that at noisy and potentially wet Qwest Field. This is one of the toughest venues in the NFL, and an interception here or fumble there will get the crowd into full-throat mode. Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith should be able to exploit a 29th-rated pass defense, however, but will probably stay away from safety Earl Thomas, who leads the team with four picks. If backup center Adam Koets can take care of the Seahawks' second-leading tackler, MLB Lofa Tatupu, Bradshaw could be in four his fourth 100-yard rushing effort in five games. Newly-signed Will Blackmon will return kickoffs and punts in the absence of Reynaud, who did not make the trip west after straining his hamstring Friday. Just as well, considering the return game needs a huge boost. The Seattle offense has scored just eight touchdowns in 22 trips inside the 20. Their defense has already had two 500-yard games posted against it.
WHY THE GIANTS WILL LOSE: The Seahawks are a totally different team at Qwest than they are on the road. They're 3-0, and averaging 26 points on offense and allowing just 12 average on defense. Plus, a kick coverage game that has been improving but isn't quite there yet will have to worry about ex-Jet Leon Washington, who has returned kickoffs at a 44-yard rate in games in Seattle. He's already brought two back for touchdowns, including a 101-yarder against the Chargers. Matt Dodge may also see him on punt returns now that regular returnman Golden Tate is out. The Seahawks have two able running backs in Lynch and Justin Forsett, the latter of which averages 4.5 yards per carry. Washington also goes back there as a change-of-pace and is dangerous. Mike Williams (33 catches, 375 yards, one TD) and TE John Carlson (20-231-1) head a West Coast style offense that DE Chris Clemons leads the Seahawks is ranked ninth in the conference 5 1/2 sacks, and he has 13 hits on the quarterback.
PREDICTION: This is not exactly a powerhouse. But idle weeks can take the edge off even the most vicious of defenses, of which the Giants are one. If they don't suffer a post-bye letdown, the Giants win this one going away, 34-10.