As many of you know, the Seattle Seahawks have one of the best home-field advantages in all of professional sports. Qwest Field is one of the loudest facilities in the league, which leads to a ton of false starts. This is a fully caffeinated crowd that likes to set the tone for the Seahawks. Teams are averaging three false starts per game in Seattle this season, which is second in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. And our Seattle-based NFC West blogger Mike Sando says the Seahawks lead the league with 99 false starts caused at home since '05. (The Vikings' Metrodome is second with 89).
But the New York Giants are built to withstand this type of volume. As Star-Ledger beat man Mike Garafolo notes, the Giants lead the NFC with 6.47 yards per play on first down. That's good enough for second in the league. And if the Giants can continue that trend, I think they have a good chance to take the crowd out of this game early.
"We’ve done a good job in our preparation, having a sense of what we’re anticipating them giving us and calling plays that give our guys a chance to be successful,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride told reporters Thursday. “And then, the implementation of the calling or the actual execution, the guys have done a good job with it. It’s a combination of all of those things."
The run-to-pass ratio for the Giants is 124-to-95, which makes them remarkably balanced this season. Both Eli Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw have been highly effective on first down, which puts the offense in good situations on second and third downs. Now that we know Charlie Whitehurst will replace an injured Matt Hasselbeck this week, it's obvious the Seahawks will need some breaks to go their way in order to stay in this game.
The Giants could put Whitehurst in a bind early if they could score on their first drive. And I think that's a point that Gilbride is driving home this week. He puts a ton of time into planning for that initial drive. Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith are both capable of scoring on a deep ball, but something tells me that Bradshaw will be featured on those first couple drives.