Behind Enemy Lines: New York Giants
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PITTSBURGH (93-7 the Fan) —
Steelers at N.Y. Giants, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J., Sunday 4:25 p.m. CBS
Spread: Pittsburgh (+3.5) 47 O/U
All-time regular season series: The Giants lead the overall series, 46-29-3 and hold a 24-15 advantage at home.
Last Meeting: Oct. 26, 2008, in Pittsburgh, Giants won 21-14.
The defending Super Bowl Champions are playing like champs right now. They have won 4 straight games and 6 of 7 since losing their season opener. The Giants have scored at least 26 points in each of their wins, while being limited to 17 points in both of their 2 losses. The offense is ranked 3rd in the league in scoring, averaging over 29 points per game. The defense hasn’t been as good, but has used big plays to their advantage. They have a 16 interceptions and have 28 forced fumbles for a league best +13 turnover ratio. They have also accounted for 21 sacks in their first 8 games of the season. The Giants have only played one AFC North team to this point in the season, beating Cleveland at home 41-27 in week 5. This is the 1st of two straight against the division, as they travel to Cincinnati next week.
The Steelers are 2-0 against the so far this year against the NFC East, having just beat Washington last week. The Steelers have won 3 of their last 4 games, but have lost 3 of their last 4 on the road, with the only win coming 2 weeks ago in Cincinnati.
Offensive Player to Watch: Victor Cruz, Wide Receiver
Cruz is ranked in the top 10 in most categories for receivers. He ranks 4th in the league with 52 receptions and 6th in the league in yards. He also scored 7 touchdowns this year, which is tied for the most receiving scores in the league. Last week Cruz was slowed by the Cowboys defense, but prior to that he had scored 6 scores in the previous 4 games. Cruz is the favorite target of Eli Manning and should see lots of targets on Sunday against Ike Taylor and the Steelers secondary.
Defensive Player to Watch: Jason Pierre-Paul, Defensive End
Pierre-Paul is the anchor to the Giants very formidable defensive line. Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck bookend the line, both creating tough match-ups for opposing teams offensive tackles. Pierre-Paul has recorded 5.5 sacks so far this year, which leads the team. He has also snagged an interception this year.
Eli Manning is now considered an “elite” quarterback by most, and deservingly so after winning his second career Super Bowl last February. He has a nice trio of wide receivers to work with in Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon. Those three have 103 catches for over 1,300 yards at the half way point in their season. Manning has thrown a few to many interceptions for most peoples liking, with 8 already this year, but his line has been able to keep him upright and clean allowing only 6 sacks. Last week was the only week this season that Manning had not thrown for a touchdown. Eli has thrown 8 touchdowns at home this season, compared to the 4 on the road.
The Giants do have intercepted a league best 16 passes this year, but many of those have come late in games or when teams are trailing trying to play catch up. This is a Super Bowl caliber defense, so saying that they are a weakness may not be fair, but the entire team is pretty solid up and down the roster. Opposing teams have completed over 62% of their passes for 2,347 yards, so teams have had some success through the air against the Giants.
He Said It:
“I talked to him a little bit last night. We talked a little football. I asked if they had anything and he said they do what they always do and they have good players and a good scheme. He didn’t have anything earth shattering to tell me that I wouldn’t see from previous games that we played against them over the years or just watching the film from this year.” – Eli Manning, Giants QB on talking to brother Peyton in preparation for the Steelers defense.