Photo Credit: Associated Press
The Giants head in to Heinz field riding a six game winning streak. They’re currently the fifth seed in the NFC but their schedule is about to get a lot more challenging in the final five weeks of the season. Below are a few keys to the Giants coming away with another victory as they make a push to the playoffs.
Minimize the impact that Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have on the game:
Now this is certainly asking a lot as both players are fundamental in the success of the Pittsburgh offense. That being said, if the Giants can prevent Brown from making big plays that result in touchdowns or excellent field position that will help their cause. In eight of the Steeler’s eleven games Roethlisberger has targeted Brown ten or more times so its more than apparent that the secondary will have their hands full. With regards to Bell, his last two games have been superb with 120 and 146 yards respectively, averaging 5.2 yards per carry with a pair of touchdowns. The Giants rushing defense, which is ranked fifth in the NFL will have to step up and prevent Bell from moving the chains throughout the game. If they can limit his production and the defensive line can get pressure on Roethlisberger that should make a difference in their ability to consistently put together drives against the Giants.
Get consistent pressure on Roethlisberger:
Last week against the Cleveland Browns the Giants picked up 7 sacks and over the last three games their defense has a total of 14 sacks. The pass rush has come on recently and they’re going to need players like Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon to find a way to put pressure on Ben Roethlisberger throughout the contest and stifle their offense. If the defense can take Roethlisberger out of his rhythm early and often and keep them off the field then the chances of picking up a victory will go up.
A big game from Odell Beckham Jr. :
The Steelers defense has given up the seventh most yards to opposing teams receivers and the fifth most touchdowns. Those statistics alone should be music to Giants’ receivers ears, namely the dynamic playmaker, Odell Beckham Jr. Last week Beckham was superb and made big plays when the Giants needed him to. This game against the Steelers is the first of the final five games which are all against good opponents that will determine whether the Giants make the playoffs this season. For that reason the Giants are going to need to significantly raise their level of play down the stretch. Beckham’s presence will need to be felt throughout the game if the Giants are going to go into Pittsburgh and come out with a win. Last week the Giants used Beckham as a punt returner several times and he was terrific. One of his returns was good for a touchdown, but it was negated by a penalty on Mark Herzlich. The Giants will probably utilize him again in that way because he is so explosive but beyond trotting on to the field for a punt return, Eli Manning has to find him frequently during the game. The offense’s success is frequently reliant on Beckham making plays over the course the game and Sunday will be an opportunity for him step into the spotlight and rise to the occasion.
Prediction: Steelers win 24-20
Dan Evans is Contributing Writer for PureSportsNY You can follow him on Twitter @DanEvansPSNY