Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants Preview and Pick – Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Seattle Seahawks (1-2) +7, 43.5 O/U at New York Giants (3-0) -7, 43.5 O/U, Giants Stadium, Meadowlands, N.Y., 1 PM Eastern, Sunday
by Badger of

Two teams both coming off of their bye week will clash this Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks travel across the country to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands.

The Giants are a perfect 3-0 so far in 2008 and have played nearly flawless football during their three-game run. They were tested somewhat last time out, needing a 22-yard field goal by John Carney to beat the winless Cincinnati Bengals, 26-23, in overtime.

The bye week couldnt have come at a better time for the Seahawks, as their severely banged-up receiving core was able to get some much needed rest. Seattle did win their last game before the break, but it was a 37-13 victory over the hapless St. Louis Rams, so take it for what its worth.

Online Sportsbooks opened the game with the Giants as 9-point favorites at home, but early money on the Seahawks dropped the number down quickly to its current 7-point spread. The over/under total opened at 44 and continues to hover with a half-point of the opening mark with most offshore bookies and most of the books in Las Vegas listing it at 43.5. If you want to bet the moneyline, the Giants are listed as -325 favorites, with the Seahawks as +295 underdogs.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning continues to show the maturity and poise he put on full display late last season as the G-men were making their improbable run to the title. His quarterback rating is at an all-time high of 91.1 through three games, with just under 800 yards passing with four touchdowns and just one interception so far.

Under his leadership the Giants currently rank 4th overall in total yards (400.3 ypg) and 6th in the league in points per game (27.7 ppg). It helps that the Giants strong offensive line and running back core of Brandon Jacobs (244 yards), Ahmad Bradshaw (2 TD) and Derrick Ward (6.8 yards per carry) have given the G-men one of the leagues most dominating ground games (4th in rushing - 157 ypg).

Seattle has struggled to get back into form on offense this season, mostly due to a receiving core that has been decimated by injuries. The Seahawks top three receivers, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram, have all missed time this season and only Branch is expected back anytime soon (listed as questionable for Sunday). Without weapons on the outside to throw to, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawk passing game has dropped to 22nd in the league at just 170.3 yards a game.

The lone bright spot for the Hawks has been their running game. Offseason additions Julius Jones (312 yards) and D.J. Duckett (3 TD) have played well and have sparked the team to the leagues 2nd-best rushing yards per game mark at 166.3 yards per game. But that does little good when you cant throw the ball to keep defenses honest, especially in the red zone.

Despite losing their top two pass rushers from last season (Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora), the Giants defense has picked up right where they left off at the end of last season. Fred Robbins (4 sacks) and Justin Tuck (3 sacks, 1 INT) are the new featured pass rushers that have helped the Giants become the 4th-best team in yards allowed (252.3 ypg) and the 3rd-best unit in scoring defense (14.3 ppg).

Seattles defense has also slipped a little from last season, as the unit is still strong overall (314.3 ypg - 12th) and against the run (88.0 ypg - 9th), but has been gouged by big plays in the passing game (226.3 ypg - 25th) which has put the Seahawks near the bottom of the league in points allowed with a 26.7 ppg average.

The Giants and Seahawks havent met on the field since the 2006 season, a 42-30 victory by Seattle at Quest Field in Seattle. The Hawks also won the meeting before that, also played in Seattle, by the score of 24-21 in overtime. Otherwise these two teams are virtually dead even, as they have split the last eight meetings 4-4 straight up, with the Seahawks holding a 5-2-1 ATS record in those same eight games.

Thus far, the Giants have been solid for bettors with a 2-1 ATS mark, while the Seahawks have been a disappointing 1-2 ATS in 2008. The Seahawks have gone over in all three of their game though, with the Giants also coming in over the total in two of their three contest thus far.

There are a few other betting trends that stick out in this game.

The Giants have been on a major role since last season, going 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games overall including a perfect 5-0 ATS mark versus NFC teams.

But both teams seem to have a hard time getting started again following the bye week, as Seattle is just 2-8 ATS in the last 10 games following the break, while the Giants are 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games following the bye.

Badgers Pick: Neither team plays all that well after a bye, which makes this game a hard one to pick. Despite all of the betting trends that say the over is a good bet, Im taking the bad bye week stat to the bank and going with my gut feeling. Take the under of 43.5 as both teams struggled to work off the rust in a 21-10 Giants win.