Giants-Seahawks: Three Key Matchups

Football is the ultimate team game but individual matchups can and do determine winners each week at every level. Which of the one-on-one battles must the Seahawks win against the Giants to achieve victory? A big play from Russell Wilson and slowing down New York's young standouts Odell Beckham, Jr. and Johnathan Hankins would be a good start.

As much as any other professional sport, the NFL is a team game. No one player can be successful without the assistance of others. That said, individual matchups can and do determine winners and losers on a weekly basis. Scout.com brought in greater Seattle resident and NFL scout Rob Rang to help determine the individual matchups that will determine whether the Seahawks will win or lose this week.

Here are his thoughts on the three critical one-on-one matchups for this week's game.

Seahawks LG Alvin Bailey vs. Giants DT Johnathan Hankins

While the Seahawks are expected to get back Pro Bowlers Russell Okung and Max Unger back this week, they still won't have their preferred starting five on the offensive line, as left guard James Carpenter is dealing with a sprained knee he suffered last week against Oakland. Taking his place will be Bailey, who played well last week when pressed into duty and started every game of his collegiate career (Arkansas) at guard before moving primarily to tackle with the Seahawks.

Because of Bailey's surprising lateral agility and length (including 34 3/4" arms), he matches up reasonably well with the Giants' blossoming defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who some Big Blue fans believe has been the team's best player this season. Like the Seahawks' Brandon Mebane, Hankins is wide-bodied (6-2, 320) run-stuffer who combines great strength with surprising burst to split gaps. He's recorded at least four tackles in five of the last six games, including a career-high six stops two weeks ago against NFC West-leading Arizona.

Though quicker than he looks, Hankins isn't generally a pass rush threat. He is, however, a key factor in the running game. If Seattle is going to be able to pound the ball with Marshawn Lynch like it hopes, containing Hankins is critical.

Giants WR Odell Beckham vs. Seahawks CBs Tharold Simon

If Hankins has been the Giants' best player, Beckham has been their most exciting. After injury kept him sidelined early in the year, Beckham's has emerged as the Giants' most dynamic pass-catcher, hauling in either a touchdown or eclipsing the 100-yard mark in three of his past four games. Beckham has terrific agility and first-step acceleration to create yardage after the catch and can make the highlight reel grab look routine. With Byron Maxwell still sidelined with injury and Richard Sherman likely to stay on his customary left side matching up against the bigger, more physical Rueben Randle, Simon is expected to draw Beckham on most snaps. Simon (6-3, 202) has the size advantage and knows Beckham (5-11, 198) well as the two were teammates at LSU, but he isn't as quick and could draw the yellow-flag wrath of officials if he extends his arms to try to slow the slippery receiver.

Eli Manning has bad memories of the Seahawks as they intercepted him five times in their last meeting - a 23-0 victory for the Seahawks last year in MetLife Stadium. Despite rumors to the contrary, he's played well in New York's new West Coast-based offense and hasn't thrown an interception since Week Four.

'Ya think he'd like to end New York's current three-game skid and show big brother Peyton how to beat the Seahawks? To do, Beckham is likely to be his favorite target.

Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse vs. Giants CBs Zack Bowman

The Giants haven't been as ravaged on the injury-front as the Seahawks - except at cornerback where they've lost three players (including former Seahawk Walter Thurmond) to season-ending injuries, already. The rotating door at corner has left the Giants vulnerable to big plays through the air, something that the Seahawks may be able to exploit if they protect Russell Wilson.

Bowman (6-1, 196) has the length and awareness to step up to the challenge but, like a lot of taller cornerbacks, he's struggles a bit with double- moves. Kearse (6-1, 209) and rookie Paul Richardson each possess the speed to challenge deep. A deep throw (or two) down the sidelines early would keep the Giants' solid safety tandem of Antrel Rolle and Quentin Demps playing back, rather than crowding the line of scrimmage to slow down Lynch and the running game.

Whether it be the recovered onside kick last week or the 53-yard reception against Dallas, Kearse has continued his tendency to come up big at critical moments for the Seahawks. Given the way Seattle's schedule amps up in the coming weeks, this has the feel of a must-win game.

Prediction: Seahawks 27 - Giants 17

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