JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Snow fluttered to the New Jersey ground most of Saturday, providing a menacing – or charming, depending on your point of view – harbinger to what might happen there in early February.
The NFL has chose MetLife Stadium, where the Seahawks will face the New York Giants at 10 a.m. Sunday, as the site for Super Bowl XLVIII.
February could bring a light – or heavy – dusting of snow, providing the kind of All-American football setting a Norman Rockwell would conjure.
Or, it could turn travel into a nightmare when thousands of people descend on the already dense New Jersey/New York metro area for the mania of the season’s biggest game.
The Seahawks contend any Super Bowl considerations are far from their thoughts. It’s a scheduling coincidence that their final trip of the regular season can serve as a dry run if they were to return to New Jersey to play for a title Feb. 2, 2014.
“We’ll go there and fight hard with them and try to get a win out of it, but that’s all you’re thinking about right now,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “You can’t think that far down the line, you can’t think to the next week right now with the kind of season and the kind of guys that are out there.
“You’d be doing disrespect to the New York Giants and their organization and their good players. That’s why you don’t ever overlook them and try to look towards the Super Bowl.”
Despite last week’s loss in San Francisco, the Seahawks are still in a prime spot to win the NFC West along with the conference’s top seed and homefield edge throughout the playoffs.
Entering Sunday, the Seahawks have the NFL’s best record. In order to clinch the division title for the first time since 2010, they need to win and have San Francisco lose or tie at Tampa Bay. Or, if the Seahawks tie and the 49ers lose, Seattle takes the West.
To clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, the Seahawks need to win and need the 49ers (9-4) to lose or tie, and need New Orleans (10-3) to lose.
If the Seahawks finish the regular season tied with New Orleans, they hold the tiebreaker because of a head-to-head victory.
Another step toward resolving those scenarios and whether the Seahawks will have to pack bags again this season can be taken Sunday.
The Giants started the season with six consecutive losses, have been eliminated from the playoffs and talked this week of playing for pride.
They are also aware that the Seahawks are a skilled, demonstrative bunch.
“The last thing you want to be is embarrassed,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. “And this is a team that, if you’re not ready to play, they will embarrass you … and then laugh at you about it.”
The Giants put together a four-game win streak in the middle of the season, though they beat only one team with a winning record (Philadelphia). The G-Men lost two of three and were stomped 37-14 last week in San Diego.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown 20 interceptions and 16 TDs and he has the lowest passer rating of his career. However, the Seahawks remain wary of the two-time Super Bowl MVP.
“When he’s on he’s on,” Sherman said. “He’s as good as anybody when he’s throwing the ball well. That’s the way they’ve won Super Bowls.”
Which is the goal for the Seahawks. Just one not to be discussed this week.
SEATTLE (11-2) at NEW YORK GIANTS (5-8)
10 a.m., MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
TV: Ch. 13. Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: Seattle and the New York Giants have met 15 times in the regular season, and the Giants lead the series, 9-6. The last time the teams met in the regular season, the Seahawks won, 36-25, on Oct. 9, 2011 in New Jersey.
What to watch: The Seahawks went to St. Louis in Week 8 and were lit up by the Rams’ defensive ends, notably Pro Bowl-bound Robert Quinn. That was when the offensive line was still in flux, but was notable because it showed how just a couple of ends can wreck the day on offense. The Giants will send defensive end Justin Tuck, who leads them with 8.5 sacks, after Russell Wilson. The greatest difference for Seattle against the Giants, as opposed to the St. Louis game, is it the Seahawks have both starting tackles – Russell Okung on the left and Breno Giacomini on the right – back in place and rust-free.
The pick: Seahawks 35, Giants 17
No. Name, Pos., Ht., Wt., Year
29 Earl Thomas, S, 5-10, 202, fourth
- Interception-prone Eli Manning will try to avoid throwing the ball in the direction of Thomas.
60 Max Unger, C, 6-5, 305, fifth
- How effective will the former Oregon Ducks star be with an injured pectoral?
72 Michael Bennett, DT, 6-4, 274, fifth
- Haven’t heard much lately from the defensive lineman in his second stint with the Seahawks.
81 Golden Tate, WR, 5-10, 202, fourth
- Former Notre Dame standout probably too physical for any New York Giants cornerback.
86 Zach Miller, TE, 6-5, 255, seventh
- Pass catcher and standout blocker missed some practice this week because of injured ribs.
No. Name, Pos., Ht., Wt., Year
10 Eli Manning, QB, 6-4, 218, 10th
- If Peyton Manning’s younger brother gets stuck in the pocket, could be in trouble.
20 Prince Amukamara, CB, 6-0, 207, third
- Former Nebraska cornerback is second on team in passes defensed.
26 Antrel Rolle, S, 6-0, 206, ninth
- The No. 8 overall pick in 2005 leads the Giants with five interceptions.
80 Victor Cruz, WR, 6-0, 204, fourth
- Slot receiver known for fancy salsa dance moves has been targeted a stunning 117 times this season by the Giants.
91 Justin Tuck, DE, 6-5, 268, ninth
- Two-time All-Pro defensive end from Notre Dame can be trouble off the edge.