A bit late this week because of the storm, he's our weekly crossover piece with the boys from Steelers101.com as Eli Manning and the New York Giants hope to forget about the destruction caused by the storm for a few hours this afternoon while Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town.
We've heard all about the Steelers having to travel from Pittsburgh this morning because they couldn't find a hotel, but let's get a little deeper with Mark Mihalko from Steelers 101 and see what we're in store for.
We've heard a lot this year about a shaky, unhealthy offensive line. Is Big Ben getting beat up that bad back there?
It is honestly hard to tell whether the Steelers offensive line has been playing better lately or if new offensive coordinator Todd Haley is just doing a better job game planning. The new dink-and-dunk offense has paid dividends with Roethlisberger getting the ball out of his hands quicker than he did in seasons past. It also looks like the reason for this new found success in the running games, as teams are playing outside for the quick passing game and Dwyer has been very patient.
Biggest weakness: rookie Mike Adams can be exposed by an outside speed rush at right tackle a la the Philadelphia Eagles wide-nine approach. To compensate, they play with a tight end or back chipping a lot on that side. Looming as an even bigger issue is depth, as one injury to a tackle will have them scrambling.
This makes us giddy at the thought of seeing Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul matched up against Adams.
Jonathon Dwyer had some pretty good games on my fantasy team the last two weeks, but it looks like he and Mendenhall are out. Should be scared of an Isaac Redman-led running game?
Redman should get the bulk of the carries with Baron Batch and Chris Rainey sprinkled in. They have been running Rainey a bit more in recent weeks and he may be the healthiest back available. However, his smallish size will limited his touches.
Survey says….not really? That Redman is averaging 2.5 yards a carry this season and hasn't done much while Dwyer and Mendenhall both had far more success when in there, and that Mark immediately brought up Rainey when asked about Redman makes us think the Giants can make the Steelers one-dimensional today.
The Steelers have a pretty good 1-2-3 punch in Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller. How can we expect to see these weapons used? Are there any under-the-radar playmakers we should know about?
This new offense really suits all three of those guys and for the first time in his career Ben is really taking what the defense gives. If there is a difference in targets, it would be that Wallace seems to get more than Brown but it really appears to be a game-to-game situation. Miller is having a Pro Bowl season, and if he was not forced to stay in and block as much, he may have even better numbers.
One player that is really coming on is Emmanuel Sanders, the number three guy, who has come up big with some third down receptions in the past few weeks.
Sanders is a good young receiver who can definitely hurt us (especially if he gets locked up on rookie Jayron Hosley) That said, we're pretty worried about the Steelers passing game as a whole…they've got some big fish in that aerial attack and it's their best shot at knocking us off.
Of course, the biggest part of most NFL games are injuries and the Steelers have their fare share.
The Polamalu injury may hurt the worst, as it has exposed the safety position, especially when Ryan Clark is not on the field. Woodley is listed as probable and may play, but that is a fluid situation. Cornerback Ike Taylor has struggled all season when not given help, and we would think that the Giants attack him. The Steelers have also not done well against the run or on third down. The Giants should be successful by going no-huddle and mixing run and pass. That is what has killed this defense all season (especially in the fourth quarter).
And finally, the Steelers win if…
….they can get off the field on third down and keep Roethlisberger standing. The defense has been all over the place in 2012 and appear to be trending up. However, they are still not where they need to be. Last weekend the Washington Redskins let them off the hook with a ton of crucial drops that ended drives. Offensively, with Redman returning from injury and poised to carry the load, the Steelers may be forced to use the short pass as a running game. If they can do this and keep Ben clean for a couple shots downfield, they may be able to pull out a victory.
Big thanks to Mark for his work…and we absolutely love that "may be able to pull out a victory" line. Seems that people have started to recognize the Giants as a formidable foe.
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