The New York Giants have to be breathing a sigh of relief after beating the Dallas Cowboys by less than an inch, literally. Dez Bryant appeared to secure the game winning touchdown with a spectacular catch in the back of the end zone with just under 20 seconds remaining. Further review showed that Bryant was out of bounds by a fingernail, as he put his hand down to break his fall out of bounds. If he doesn’t plant his hands then the Cowboys have a much needed win and Cowboys +3 tickets cash. Thousands of dollars surely changed hands on that call. The Cowboys did just about everything they could to give the game to the Giants. Tony Romo had 4 interceptions, including a pick-6 early in the contest that gave the Giants a 23-point lead. The Cowboys manufactured a great looking comeback in the second half, taking a 24-23 lead in the 3rd quarter. The Cowboys were down by two late in the fourth, covering the spread, before a Felix Jones fumble around the 50-yard line gave the Giants excellent field position. The Giants ultimately went on to kick a field goal to make it 29-24 to set up a wild finish with seconds remaining on the Cowboys last possession.
The Pittsburgh Steelers looked like the Steelers of old against the Washington Redskins in week 9. Playing defense and getting a productive game out of Ben Roethlisberger and company en route to a 27-12 victory. Roethlisberger passed for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns on the afternoon. They also got another super outing from running back Jonathan Dwyer, gashing the ‘Skins defense for 107 yards. Dwyer had a good game in week 7 as well against the Bengals, so the run game has seen a resurgence of sorts under Dwyer with Rashard Mendenhall out. Dwyer may be the X factor in this offense as the season progresses. If the running game can survive the loss of Mendenhall, then the offense will be a solid bunch. The offense in total currently sits at a comfortable 10th spot in the rankings, averaging 369.9 yards per game. The Steelers will get a much stiffer test against the Giants in week 9, as the Redskins defense is one of the worst in the NFL.
The Giants defense isn’t what it used to be though, that is for sure. When I say the Giants defense better than the Redskins that isn’t saying much, because every defense is better than the Redskins! Except perhaps the Saints. The Giants are 24th in the NFL with regards to total team defense, allowing 386 yards per game. A far cry from the Giants we are used to knowing. In fact, the Giants have actually have had to get into a fair amount of shootouts this season to win games. They are the 4th best offense in the NFL in a season that defenses are starting to recognize the talent of Eli Manning. Gone are the days of Manning simply being a game manager and letting the defense dictate games. They average 396 yards per game with 29.2 points scored. The passing game is one of more prolific units in the NFL, with an average of 282 yards through the air a game. Receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks have propelled the offense to another level in 2012.
The Steelers defense doesn’t have the same stigma it once had, thanks to a rash of injuries and aging players they are not the same bunch that could take over a game from start to finish. Nevertheless, they are still one of the better defenses in the NFL. As long as Dick Lebeau is the defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, he will continue to dial up great packages. The Steelers are only 3 yards behind the 49ers with regards to yards allowed per game at 274.1. They have been really good against the pass, 1st in the league only surrendering 182 yards in that respect. Troy Polamalu will be sitting this one out, but linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley will be suiting up. Those two make a huge difference in this defense, and it should show against the Giants.
Steelers vs. Giants Spread and Betting Odds:
Pittsburgh Steelers +3.5 (-115)
@New York Giants -3.5 (-105)
Over 47.5 (-110)
Under 47.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Steelers vs. Giants Pick:
There are a lot of question marks coming into this game, mainly because of hurricane Sandy. The game is still going on according to plan at MetLife, but it will be played with heavy hearts considering the events that unfolded this last week. I think the Giants’ players lives have been disrupted somewhat this week. Between the hurricane and trying to focus on a football game, I believe it has worn them down a bit. Earlier in the season there were games the Steelers played in that looked like they just got hit by a hurricane. Lack of a running game, defense looked like a mess, receivers dropping balls, you name it and the Steelers were doing it. However, with the return of James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, I think this Steelers team may go on a run.
As I alluded to above, the Steelers still have a top notch defense. You can’t say much bad things about a defense that ranks 2nd in the NFL. The running game has definitely seen a dip in production, however. But the last two weeks have been great performances for Jonathan Dwyer. He is getting more comfortable, and as a result, putting together good outings. Unfortunately, Dwyer will be sitting out with a quad injury, but I still like the running game to produce with Isaac Redman. I look for the Steelers to move the ball against a not so good Giants’ defense. I’ll take the Steelers and the points, in a game where there may be more attention on the events of the last week than the game.
PICK = Steelers +3.5