Sometimes following tragic events things such as sports are needed to take people’s minds off of whatever has occurred even if it’s just for a second, an hour or a day. That is exactly what the New York Giants (6-2) and Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) will attempt to do during their contest on Sunday afternoon for the citizens of the New York Metropolitan Tri-State area who had their life’s altered either slightly or on a larger scale following the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
The Giants offense enters the game currently ranked fourth in total offensive yards gained per game (396.8 yards), sixth in passing yards gained per game (282.1 yards), 12th in rushing yards gained per game (114.6 yards) and third in points scored per game (29.3 points) while their defense is ranked 24th in total offensive yards allowed per game (386.5 yards), 26th in passing yards allowed per game (273.5 yards), 19th in rushing yards allowed per game (113 yards) and ninth in points allowed per game (20.1 points).
When speaking of the Giants offense one must first mention their signal caller Eli Manning who is the catalyst for the entire unit. This season Manning has passed for 2,301 yards (3rd in NFL), 12 touchdowns (10th in NFL), eight interceptions and has completed 62.6% of his attempts. Manning will look to find wholes in a normally dominant Pittsburgh defense to the get the ball in the hands of his top playmakers Victor Cruz (52 receptions for 650 yards and 7 TD this season), Hakeem Nicks (26 receptions for 380 yards and a TD) and Martellus Bennett (29 receptions for 334 yards and 3 TD). Manning will also look to get some assistance from his running game which feature both Ahmad Bradshaw (126 carries for 570 yards and 4 TD) and Andre Brown (46 carries for 236 yards and 5 TD) which should keep Pittsburgh defense honest from loading up against the pass. Justin Pierre-Paul (5.5 sacks, INT, TD) and Chase Blackburn (47 tackles, 2 sacks, INT, 2 forced fumbles) will have to be the anchor of the Giants defense in hopes to halt the Steelers potent passing attack.
Pittsburgh’s offense is currently ranked 10th in total offensive yards gained per game (369.9 yards), seventh in passing yards gained per game (272.6 yards), 21st in rushing yards gained per game (97.3 yards) and 13th in points scored per game (23.9 points) while their defense is ranked second in total offensive yards allowed per game (274.1 yards), first in passing yards allowed per game (182.6 yards), ninth in rushing yards allowed per game (91.6 yards) and 10th in points allowed per game (20.6 points).
That Steelers passing attack is led by quarterback Big Ben Roethlisbereger who has passed for 1,987 yards (9th in NFL), 14 touchdowns (tied for 7th in NFL), three interceptions and completed 66.8% of his attempts (6th in NFL) this season through the team’s first seven games. Roethlisberger will look early and often to hook up with his plethora of weapons which includes Antonio Brown (40 receptions for 480 yards and a TD), Mike Wallace (36 receptions for 459 yards and 4 TD), Heath Miller (35 receptions for 336 yards and 6 TD) and Emmanuel Sanders (22 receptions for 282 yards). Pittsburgh again this week will have uncertainty in their running game with both Rashard Mendenhall and Johnathan Dwyer both listed as doubtful which means that Isaac Redman (50 carries for 127 yards and a TD) will have to figure out a way to pick up the slack so that the Giants pass rushers don’t get opportunities to tee off on Roethlisberger without worrying about the run. The Steelers will need their own pass rush to awaken in this game both James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have been dealing with injuries this season and have gotten off to slow starts, however if they can turn it around in this one then Pittsburgh can come away with a tough road win.
This should be a phenomenal game between two teams who possess incredible passing games and ferocious pass rushes however the Steelers have two major factors going against them. The first is the fact that they were unable to secure a hotel in the New York area due to the aftermath of Sandy so they will have to travel to MetLife Stadium from Pittsburgh on game day. The second is that the Giants will more than likely come out fired up and riding the emotions of their fans looking to inspire them in the process in the wake of the tragedy. I like the G-Men in a very close one 23-20.