The New York Giants may be the best team in football right now and the Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled against the better teams on their schedule this year. Throw a wrench into Pittsburgh’s travel plans and the Steelers will have plenty of adversity to overcome this Sunday in New York. With two of the best coaches in the NFL facing off, expect both teams to be fully prepared for a physical, exciting game.
If the way the New York Knicks responded to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy is any indication of the ability of this city to rebound from disaster, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in trouble Sunday afternoon. After failing to find a hotel with electricity, the Steelers will be arriving in Newark on Sunday morning before heading directly to the stadium after a pregame meal.
The defending Super Bowl champions roll into their Week Nine matchup with the Steelers as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Though their wins have been sloppy the last two weeks, the New York Giants have balance and are healthy on both sides of the ball. Eli Manning has cemented himself as one of the game’s top quarterbacks. When needed, he can be relied on to power the Giants offense. A deep corps of running backs complements a passing attack fueled by Manning’s consistency and a plethora of dynamic receivers. With ten players on the injury report this week for the Steelers and Troy Polamalu still out, the Steelers face a tall task in controlling a multi-dimensional Giants offense. Age has slowed the Steelers defense down, and the Giants are simply too efficient with the football every week.
The Pittsburgh Steelers rank just 21st in rushing, which will likely be the key to the game on Sunday. On the road, the Steelers need to establish a balanced attack or the elite defensive ends of the New York Giants will be given too much freedom to rush the passer. Under pressure and tormented by New York’s new-found defensive health and depth, it will likely be a long day for Ben Roethlisberger and company.
In the end, the New York Giants are 3.5 point favorites at home. It seems worthwhile to buy this line down to three points, in case the Giants continue to stumble through their wins. Motivated by local disaster, and entering the game as the better team, I like New York at home. The Giants have been sloppy lately, but the Steelers are too old, injured, and inconsistent to take advantage of New York’s recent struggles – just like the Cowboys and Redskins couldn’t. The Steelers might stay in the game, but I don’t think they’ll be able to pull off the upset.
Giants 31 – Steelers 23