Leading the NFC East, the New York Giants return home to play the first football game since the devastating Hurricane Sandy. Coming off a toughly-contested win over divisional rival, the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants will be looking to secure their seventh victory of the season at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers (4.25pm ET, Sunday).
The defending Superbowl Champions, NY Giants, rebounded from an 0-1 start to win six of their last seven games including four straight wins dating back to October 7.
There is no denying the Giants are having a great season, but what could stand in the way of repeating as NFC champs is their 2-2 record in divisional play. Luckily enough for them, neither the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins or Cowboys are doing enough to match that record and so far, they all sit with just three wins, well behind the Giants mark of six.
The Steelers meanwhile are one of many AFC teams sitting at 4-3 on the season. They have played well at times, but overall inconsistencies and a rash list of injuries, has kept this team from getting off to a better start. Like the Giants however, Pittsburgh is coming off a winning streak that really saw them play the best they have all season. Offensively, they can’t exactly match what Giants’ QB Eli Manning brings to the table and the weapons he has, but defensively this Steelers’ defense is very close to getting back to the top notch squad they were last season. They are also only one game back of the Baltimore Ravens, and a win against the Giants could certainly put first play in the AFC North back in their reach.
Quarterback Royale: (NYG) Eli Manning vs. (PIT) Ben Roethlisberger
In 2004, Ben Roethlisberger was drafted eleventh overall by the Steelers. On that same day, the younger brother of future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning, was also drafted and then immediately traded to the Giants. Within the next three years, both of these quarterbacks were lifting the Lombardi Trophy as Superbowl Champions. Within the next three years, both were doing so again.
Forever linked by their draft class and as two-time Superbowl champs, both Roethlisberger and Manning have performed consistently toward the top of their class and recently, have done so as top ten quarterbacks in the league.
They have met only twice before with the men splitting the head-to-heads, each ironically winning in games on the road. Both also have astounding postseason records with Manning winning eight of eleven postseason games and Roethlisberger winning ten of fourteen. They have been winners and for the past eight years, have really embodied what the quarterback position is all about: toughness, grit, determination, leadership and a will to win.
- Eli Manning Career Stats: 82.6 RAT, 29,880 YDS, 197 TD
- Eli Manning 2012 Stats (8 GP) – 62.6 CMP%, 2,301 YDS, 12 TD, 8 INT, 89.1 RAT
- Ben Roethlisberger Career Stats: 92.8 RAT, 28,566 YDS, 179 TD
- Ben Roethlisberger 2012 Stats (7 GP) – 66.8 CMP%, 1,987 YDS, 14 TD, 3 INT, 101.4 RAT
As you can see by the stats, both of these guys in their careers and on the season, really mirror each other. What is worth noting however is that Big Ben has played better in his last two (72.7 CMP%, 4 TD/1 INT) than Eli has (58.4 CMP%, 1 TD/3 INT). Eli however is widely recognized as one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the league and despite Roethlisberger’s favorable stats, Manning has the victories, largely a result of the ability to bring his team back late in games.
Protecting Big Ben: Steelers O-Line vs. Giants’ Front Four
Despite his size, Roethlisberger has always been able to make plays out of the pocket. He isn’t as fleet of foot as some but that hasn’t stopped him from having an incredible knack for being able to scramble and create plays out of nothing. That said, none of that would be possible with a sub-par offensive line.
A big reason for the Steelers struggles this season, aside from losing so many key players to injuries, has been the play of the offensive line. After losing proficient center, Maurkice Pouncey, for much of the first few weeks of the season, the line failed to make the adjustments necessary to protect Big Ben and enable him to run the offense.
The biggest weakness for this line is that the opposing teams know that most of Pittsburgh’s offense is run through the pass. While the Steelers have long favored a pass heavy offense, with lead running back Rashard Mendenhall and secondary backs, Baron Batch and Jonathan Dwyer out because of injuries, opposing teams know that nine times out of ten, Pittsburgh is going to throw the ball.
The line has improved as of the past two games, but against the Giants and their defensive line, Pittsburgh will no doubt face their toughest task this season.
Leading this front four is what has become known as the Giants’ “Big Three” of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. These three, all named to at least one Pro-Bowl, have amassed 145 sacks as a threesome in their careers, spanning three years for Paul, eight for Tuck and ten for Umenyiora. Without a legitimate blitz, these guys have shown the ability to get to the quarterback and do so with frequency, something that could cause the Steelers offense some trouble.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants Picks Verdict
Despite Pittsburgh’s top ranked passing defense, the Steelers have still struggled on that side of the ball this season. The Giants meanwhile have found a way to make defense such as the Steelers’ pay in late game situations.
Records favor the Giants even though teams are fairly evenly matched. Expect the game to be close until the fourth when the Giants will pull away, covering the three and a half point spread. Also, take the game to meet the over of 47.5 as the sixth and seventh passing offenses in the league should air it out. So our betting picks advice is:
- Bet on NY Giants -3.5pts @ evens with Bovada. Alternatively it is -3pts @ -120 with BetOnline Sportsbook.
- Bet on over 47.5 total points @ -110 with BetOnline Sportsbook or Bovada.
- NOTE to Non-Americans: Place these bets with Bet365.