These are two impressively inconsistent teams who can swing wildly from apparently dominant to “who the hell are these guys!?”
So, as has become my weekly tradition, I will attempt to predict the unpredictable, so let’s see what I’ve got this week ...
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All the attention that isn’t being paid to Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger this week has been directed two the two teams’ superstar wide receivers. And rightfully so, because Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. are both in the conversation for best wide receiver in the NFL. They are truly great talents, driven men who are focused on being the very best, and are must-see TV whenever they are on the field.
But I’m going to say that rookie receiver Sterling Shepard and second-year Steeler Eli Rogers will be difference makers. The superstars will likely garner as much attention as the defenses can possibly spare. That should leave the secondary options with favorable match-ups, and both teams will try to exploit them. They might even be doubly important if foul weather bogs down vertical attacks.
Also worth considering is that Eli Manning apologized for not looking to Shepard against Cleveland. I think he’ll look to make amends in Pittsburgh.
Paul Perkins Will Have A Good Game
Rashad Jennings will still get the bulk of the carries, but I think we could see Perkins get a bump in the his share of the load. As far as the Giants are concerned, the most important thing a running back can do is make sure the quarterback stays upright. Perkins had a pair of good blocks last week that were praised by Mike Sullivan during the week. I think that might have earned him more snaps.
I also tend to think that Perkins will put those snaps to good use. His slippery running style might be enough to get the most out of the holes the offense opens. And with Shane Vereen on his way back, what better way to make fans agonize than for a rookie who runs similarly, and of whom they want to see more, to have a good game?
This Won’t Be A High-Scoring Game
I’ve seen too many predictions that this will be a shootout. I can’t blame prognosticators, though. With two pro-bowl, Super Bowl winning franchise quarterbacks and electric receivers, it’s easy for visions of aerial assaults to go dancing before their eyes.
I’m no where near dumb enough to predict that Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham will get shut down, they’ll both get theirs, and it might even be more expeditious to have the game decided by a dance-off at the 50-yard line.
But shoot-outs just don’t happen in Giants’ games.
We’ve talked a lot about how the Giants offense has yet to score 30 points. They’ve scored 27 against the Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens, and Cleveland Browns, and 28 against the Philadelphia Eagles, but never 30.
But they have also never given up 30 points either, and Washington (29 points) has been the only team to score more than 24 points on the Giants. These teams are almost eerily similar, and I think the game is going to be tighter than many assume.