Hurricane Sandy has forced the postponement of the New York City Marathon, the NBA opener between the Nets and Knicks and has wrought floods, power outages and widespread devastation on the entire region. The football game between the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers in East Rutherford, N.J., will go on, however, in what's sure to be an emotional atmosphere.
Since public transportation is rarely much of a factor for games at the Meadowlands right off the New Jersey Turnpike, expect a full, raucous crowd just aching for something to cheer for. Behind the New York team that has had more success than all the others combined in recent years, the fans will be anxious to scream to their hearts' content and make life miserable for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers for 60 minutes of football.
Meet the Giants
The defending Super Bowl champion Giants are 6-2 and sit comfortably atop the NFC East, and are riding a four-game winning streak. Behind Eli Manning, who is among the leading candidate for NFL MVP through eight weeks, the Giants' offense is third in the league in points per game, scoring an average of 29.3.
The Giants backfield is starting to get healthy again, which means teams have to game plan for Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown and David Wilson, who has started to work himself back into Tom Coughlin's circle of trust for plays from scrimmage. Add in Hakeem Nicks, who, despite his lack of inclusion in the offense of late, appears to finally be 100 percent, and it's going to be tough for the Steelers to stop any aspect of Big Blue.
Meet the Steelers
While the Giants are coming together and healthy, the same can't be said for the Steelers, who have been banged up all year. This week, Isaac Redman, who has been out several weeks with injury, will start in the backfield while Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer sit out with an injury.
Pittsburgh sits at 4-3, just a game behind the Baltimore Ravens for first place in the NFC North, but has struggled for any consistency, which comes when a team is as unhealthy as the Steelers have been. They have wins against the Redskins and Bengals in their past two games, but have also lost to the TItans and Raiders this year.
Local Takes: Giants
Ed Valentine from Big Blue View has a great post this week breaking down the 2004 NFL Draft class of quarterbacks — you know, the one that includes Manning and Roethlisberger — and here's a snippet (though you should really read it all) comparing it to the greatest QB drafts ever:
That distinction commonly goes to the 1983 draft class, which featured Dan Marino, John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason and Ken O'Brien. In that group there are three Hall of Famers, two Super Bowl titles (won by Elway), 11 Super Bowl appearances and Marino's status -- still -- as the most prolific passer in league history.
The Manning-Roethlisberger class isn't there yet -- and it's going to take some contributions from [Philip]Rivers and [Matt] Schaub to get them there -- but these two are doing their parts to put the group in the conversation.
Local Takes: Steelers
Behind The Steel Curtain's Neal Coolong took a more analytical approach to this week's game.
It's not impossible to exploit the Giants defense, though. Counters and traps in the running game can exploit a hard-rushing front four and an average linebacking group will struggle against the Steelers' sub packages (think posse - 3WR, 1RB 1TE - in this game).
This has more indications of a shootout than a defensive match, and perhaps two of the better quarterbacks of the last 10 years in the fourth quarter will simply do battle until the end.
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
#nyg ahmad bradshaw "Hopefully, we can take care of New York and it will be a good Sunday for everybody....— Ed Valentine (@bigblueview) November 1, 2012
Giants' beat writer Jenny Vrentas
Gov. Christie on SiriusXM on NYG-PIT: "I don’t think there’s going to be much of anything diverted away from us by having the game there."— Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) November 2, 2012
Steelers' beat writer Ed Bouchette
"@joereedy: Billy Joel can still bring it" ... Bengals should sign him then— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) November 3, 2012
Steelers at Giants (-3.5) -- Betting the Giants here because of Sandy.
The Giants opened as 4.5-point favorites, but the money has been on the Steelers since then, so they're now 3.5-point favorites on Odds Shark.
The Steelers face the woeful Kansas City Chiefs next week on Monday Night Football, in a game America is sure to be riveted by. The Giants go on the road to take on the Bengals in an early Sunday afternoon game before their bye.
NFL Week 9 Watchability Index (via sbnation)