The 8-3 New York Giants will have their hands full with the perennially tough Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday. Big Blue’s been standing tall in recent weeks riding a six-game winning streak, but they haven’t seen a team with the kind of talent the Steelers have — in abundance no less.
You can start with Antonio Brown or La’Veon Bell. Both are in the conversation for the best player in the league at their position. Then there’s Ben Roethlisberger as always, still going strong in year 13. Brown and Bell would start on any team in the NFL, Roethlisberger on most.
And that’s only one side of the ball. Ryan Shazier is no slouch either. So we ask, as we do around this time every week...
If the Giants could have any player off the roster of this week’s opponent, who would you take?
With all due respect to AB, Bell is my runaway choice. It isn't even close. He’s a tenfold upgrade over anything at the position on this Giants roster, something Brown isn’t. Not with Odell Beckham Jr. around. Who’s better is a conversation for another day.
Odell Beckham Jr. & Antonio Brown— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 30, 2016
Career as Starter
Beckham: 10.6 targets/game, 98.0 YPG
Brown: 10.7 targets/game, 97.7 YPG#NYGvsPIT
Comparing Bell to Rashad Jennings or Paul Perkins is a much shorter discussion. There’s nothing Bell doesn’t excel at. He isn’t just a dual-threat back, he’s an elite runner and pass-catcher out of the backfield. He often lines up at wide receiver and had 83 receptions in 2014, his last full-season.
He’s also one of the best pass-blocking backs in the league. Bell’s skill-set allows him to stay on the field in any situation. He’s good in short-yardage situations, he can run into the teeth of a defense, bounce plays outside, pick up a blitz or make a catch on third-and-long. There isn’t much he can’t do or much defenders can do with him.
Here’s the case for the rest below.
Antonio Brown, WR
AB has 4,530 yards receiving and 33 touchdowns since 2014. That’s less than three full seasons. What more needs to be said?
Ben Roethlisberger, QB
Big Ben is still playing the game at an elite level. He’s completing 65 percent of his passes and boasts a 23-to-seven TD-INT ratio in 2016.
William Gay, CB
He isn’t the cover-corner he once was, but Gay can still play. He’s coming off one of his best games of the season against the Indianapolis Colts with two passes defensed and an interception.
Marcus Gilbert, RT
Gilbert has battled nagging injuries most of the year, but it’s no coincidence the running game has improved as he’s gotten healthier.
Ryan Shazier, LB
Shazier beat Antonio Brown in a footrace last summer. That athleticism allows him to stop the run, rush the quarterback and do a solid job in pass coverage. In his third-season, Shazier’s only getting better.
James Harrison, LB
He makes the list on name-value, but Harrison is in the latter stages of his career. The veteran isn’t elite anymore, but he’s still serviceable (four sacks and an interception in 11 games this season).