In their last outer-conference matchup of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will host the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field. The top two quarterback prospects from the 2004 draft meet yet again in their career as they both attempt to secure a third championship title.
After dismantling the Indianapolis Colts on Thanksgiving night, the Steelers are out to prove their latest winning streak is no fluke. One of the better teams in the NFC, the Giants are making a push to assert themselves as a threat to their conference. Pittsburgh needs a strong start to the month of December, as they are playing for their playoff lives.
The Steelers defense will have their hands full with one of the best quarterback/receiver duos in Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. Rookie cornerback, Artie Burns, stated earlier in the week that he looks forward to matching up against Beckham by saying: “You can’t run away from the best, right? This is why we’re here, for moments like this.”
Burns will most likely see time against Beckham, and will need to be on top of his game against one of the better receivers in the game. The Steelers pass rush will need a great performance to keep Manning under pressure, but will have a difficult test on their hands. The Giants’ offensive line has allowed only thirteen sacks this year.
The Steelers’ offense flexed their might against the Colts’ defense last week when Antonio Brown recorded three touchdowns, and Le’Veon Bell rushed for 120 yards. They will need the same type of production on Sunday if they wish to prevail against New York. The Giants’ sixteenth ranked defense gives up over 350 yards per game, and may have trouble dealing with the Steelers’ offense.
David DeCastro vs. Jason Pierre-Paul
Perhaps the most threatening pass rusher on the Giants’ defense, Jason Pierre-Paul has accumulated seven sacks in an eleven game span. If the Steelers allow Pierre-Paul to go unopposed, that number could rise into the double-digits after Sunday. David DeCastro will square off on the right side of the Steelers’ offensive line with Pierre-Paul to keep his quarterback off the turf.
Although DeCastro has only allowed two sacks this year, his penalties committed have skyrocketed. So far in the 2016 season, he has been charge with eight offensive penalties. In the first four years of his career he only gave up a total of nine. Call an off-year if you like, but DeCastro is still one of the better offensive guards in the league.
DeCastro missed practice earlier in the week due to an illness, but he is expected to be in the starting lineup come Sunday. The offensive line must buy Roethlisberger as much time as they possibly can against New York’s tremendous pass rush to not only help him find his receivers, but to keep him injury free.
Steelers’ defensive backs vs. Giants’ receiver corps
As mentioned earlier, Burns’ matchup with Beckham will be a great test for the young defensive back, but all of the Giants’ wide receivers pose a threatening challenge to the Steelers’ defensive backs. Along with Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz play pivotal roles on the Giants’ offense.
Ross Cockrell will most likely match up with Cruz, while William Gay covers Shepard out of the slot. The Steelers have struggled at times with teams who deploy three wide receiver sets, and will see plenty of them against the Giants. If the Steelers’ cornerbacks falter early, they are in for a long afternoon against this talented group of receivers.
The Steelers’ safeties will be on tap to once again help prevent any big plays by the Giants’ receivers. Both Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis made touchdown saving tackles last week against Indianapolis. Mitchell also came away with his first interception of the season. They will be needed to provide help, especially if Beckham starts to get the best of Burns.
Ben Roethlisberger continues his aerial assault on offense, passing for over 350 yards and three touchdowns against the Giants’ defense.
Bud Dupree finally gets involved in the Steelers’ pass rush, recording his first sack of the season.
Mike Mitchell causes a forced fumble and records his second interception of the season.
The Steelers enter the month of December on a high note, defeating the Giants 31-24