By Danny Cox
The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently tied for the division lead in the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens. The team is looking more like the team that started the season 4-1 than the one that went on a four-game losing streak. The Steelers have won two in a row and are hoping to make a push for the playoffs, but the road won’t be easy. Their next test will be Sunday when they host the New York Giants, who are on a six-game winning streak. Like the Steelers, the Giants are in a tight divisional race. Neither team can afford any miscues in this match-up.
New York Giants Season Record: 8-3
New York is the only team in the NFL to defeat the Dallas Cowboys this season, which they did in the season opener. Following a win over the New Orleans Saints, they lost three games in a row before going on their current six-game winning streak. None of their victories have been blowouts, but putting together a win streak is never an easy task in the NFL.
Giants On Offense
The Giants’ offense lives and breathes on the arm of quarterback Eli Manning who is having a good season due to his ability to spread the ball around. He has already completed passes to 13 different receivers so far this season and seven of them have caught at least one of Manning’s 17 touchdowns.
Additionally, the Giants do not have an overly impressive running game, which puts more pressure on Manning to produce. Running back Rashad Jennings has just 340 yards on the ground, while the second best on the team is Shane Vereen with 147 yards. The Giants’ rushing attack has scored just five touchdowns. The team’s one-dimensional offense is certainly a weak point that defenses can exploit.
Giants on Defense
The Giants are ranked 15th in the NFL in total defense. Their run defense is quite stout. They allow less than 93 yards-per-game on the ground.
The pass rush has been good as well thanks to defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, who both have four sacks. However, the Giants are a middle of the road defense that have some weaknesses. They don’t have a great passing defense, ranking 24th in the NFL allowing 264.7 yards per game through the air, which could lead to a big day for Ben Roethlisberger.
Giants Players To Watch: WR Odell Beckham Jr. and S Landon Collins
When it comes to the Giants, the goal is to stop wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. or prepare to end up with a loss. Right now, he is dealing with a thumb injury that has caused him some discomfort in the past two weeks. Regardless, he’s having another great season. He has 819 yards and six touchdowns, which includes a game against the Baltimore Ravens in which he had 222 yards receiving.
On defense, there has been no better playmaker for the Giants than safety Landon Collins. He’s a true ballhawk who will either snatch the ball out of the air or make sure the carrier hits the ground in a hurry. Collins leads the team in total tackles with 80 and has also recorded five interceptions and three sacks.
This will be one of the biggest tests of the season for the Steelers. A victory over the Giants could go a long way toward their drive for the playoffs, as keeping this win streak going is important to their divisional race. While the Giants have won six in a row, not many of the wins were in an overly impressive fashion. If the Steelers can execute a solid game plan and stay healthy, they have a great chance to win.