Explosive Opponent Preview: The New York Football Giants

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

So much Manningface, so little time.

Apparently, the Seattle Seahawks aren't perfect. I know, I know, I'm shocked too.

The Seahawks lost to the hated San Francisco 49ers after allowing a short field goal with less than 30 seconds left. That field goal was set up through an explosive play; a Frank Gore 51 yard run. Danny has a solid, albeit frustrating, breakdown of that run here.

It was only the second big run for the 49ers that afternoon, the other being a 15 yard run by Gore in the 3rd quarter. That 1st and 10 play from the 49ers' 31 with 4:21 left in the game (based on down, distance to go and field position) should have only been worth 1 Expected Point Added (EPA) but was actually worth 4.37 EPA after Gore gimply fell in-bounds at the Seattle 18 yard line. The run itself increased the 49ers' odds of winning by a whopping 31.3%.

That's the power of the explosive play.

Seattle Seahawks

Ex. Run

Ex. Pass

Total

Ex. Run Alwd

Ex. Pass Alwd

Total

Season Totals

44

69

113

29

44

73

Avg. per game

3.38

5.31

8.69

2.23

3.38

5.62

Seattle was beaten in the explosive play battle for only the third time all season, allowing 6 big plays but only generating 4. Last Sunday was the first time all season Seattle had failed to gain any explosive rushing plays in a game. Seattle had one big run, a 20 yard gain for Marshawn Lynch, called back by Michael Robinson's Hands-to-the-Face penalty. Golden Tate also had an explosive catch negated by his own Offensive Pass Interference penalty in the 1st quarter.

Penalties, man.

Result

For

Against

Touchdown

33

15

Field Goal

17

13

Turnover

9

11

Punt

12

10

End of Half

1

1

Season Total

72

50

Score Rate

69%

56%

The Seahawks are holding steady in their explosive drive metrics. The Seahawks' score-rates, both for and against, remained steady after the loss to the 49ers. While Seattle cashed in on two touchdowns from their explosive drives, they suffered from a lack of explosive drives. Their 3 explosive drives against San Francisco tied their season-low and was only half of the number of big-play drives they average per game.

The New York Offense

Week

Opponent

Ex. Run

Ex. Pass

Total

1

at DAL

2

10

12

2

vs. DEN

0

6

6

3

at CAR

3

3

6

4

at KC

2

4

6

5

vs. PHI

0

8

8

6

at CHI

6

8

14

7

vs. MIN

0

3

3

8

at PHI

0

4

4

9

BYE

10

vs. OAK

2

3

5

11

vs. GB

1

4

5

12

vs. DAL

5

6

11

13

at WAS

2

5

7

14

at SD

2

4

6

Season Totals

25

68

93

Avg. per game

1.92

5.23

7.15

The New York Giants are a pretty bad football team, even on offense. Per DVOA, they sport the 26th worst passing attack and the 29th worst rushing attack. Surprisingly, the Giants have generated a respectable 68 explosive passes this season (Seattle has 69 such plays). However, their rushing attack's explosiveness more closely aligns to their DVOA ranking. The Giants only have 25 big running plays all season, have had zero in a game four times and have had more than two in a game only three times. This offense, much like New Orleans', won't be able to gash opponents for big runs. Unfortunately for Eli Manning and company, that's where the similarities with the Saints end.

Result

Number

Touchdown

20

Field Goal

11

Turnover

19

Punt

7

End of Half

3

Season Total

60

Score Rate

52%

The above chart helps shine some light on the terrible state of the Giants' offense. Their score-rate on explosive drives is a dismal 52%, only scoring on 31 of 60 total explosive drives. The Giants have an uncanny knack for either fumbling or throwing an interception after making a big play; that lack of ball security has been their downfall. In fact, their turnover problem is so bad that it took until the 2nd quarter of their Week 13 match up against the Redskins for the Giants to have more explosive drives result in a touchdown than in a turnover.

That is straight-up ridiculous.

The New York Defense

Week

Opponent

Ex. Run Alwd

Ex. Pass Alwd

Total

1

at DAL

2

3

5

2

vs. DEN

3

6

9

3

at CAR

5

5

10

4

at KC

1

6

7

5

vs. PHI

4

6

10

6

at CHI

2

4

6

7

vs. MIN

0

3

3

8

at PHI

0

1

1

9

BYE

10

vs. OAK

1

3

4

11

vs. GB

1

9

10

12

vs. DAL

3

6

9

13

at WAS

3

3

6

14

at SD

1

3

4

Season Totals

26

58

84

Avg. per game

2.00

4.46

6.46

If the Giants have any bright spots in this otherwise dark season, it's their defense. DVOA rates them 13th against the pass and an impressive 6th against the run. This gives them a top-10 overall unit (just barely). Their strength against the run is reflected in their explosive play numbers. They allow only 2 big runs per game this year and have allowed 2 or fewer big rushes eight times. This includes zero big runs allowed to both Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy. They are not as impressive limiting big pass plays, allowing 58 on the season and have allowed 5 explosive pass plays or more six times this season. The Seahawks will be hard-pressed to get Marshawn Lynch rolling after last week's effort but their work is cut out for them.

Result vs.

Number

Touchdown

25

Field Goal

15

Turnover

10

Punt

11

End of Half

2

Season Total

63

Score Rate

63%

New York has given up plenty of explosive drives this season allowing 40 scores for a 63% opponent score-rate. That isn't too shabby, but not quite in the 50% realm other solid defenses like Seattle, San Francisco and New Orleans occupy.

The Verdict

Last week, my guesses were right for the 49ers but very wrong for the Seahawks. I nailed the number of 49er big plays: 2 runs, 4 passes. However, I was very wrong on Seattle's big rushes and slightly off on the big passes. I guessed 3 and 5, respectively; Seattle generated 0 and 4. Seattle did an excellent job of limiting San Francisco to field goals (3 on 5 explosive drives) but didn't generate enough explosive drives (only 3) to take advantage.

Seattle will need to get back to being explosive in the running game against the Giants. This will not be easy, especially if the weather plays a major debilitating factor. However, 3 explosive runs should be enough for Seattle and I expect them to reach that benchmark. Seattle will lean on the play-action pass as they have all season and ring up 7 big pass plays.

On defense, the Seahawks should turn in a performance very similar to the Atlanta game in Week 10. Against a skilled quarterback on a bad team with no running game, Seattle will stifle the Giants, allowing only 3 explosive passes and zero explosives rushes.

I expect the Seahawks to show New York exactly why they're favored to return to the Meadowlands on the first Sunday in February.

No mercy, no escape.

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