The (6-5) Pittsburgh Steelers will play the (8-3) New York Giants at home On Sunday and they’ll be attempting to win a third-consecutive game in the process. Below are seven things that I believe the team will need to do in order to come away with their seventh win of the season against a Giants team that has won six games in a row.
130 Bell Cow Yards Needed – The Giants defense has done a great job so far this season when it comes to limiting opposing running backs in the total yards from scrimmage stat. In fact, Baltimore Ravens running back Terrance West is the only player who has managed to crack 100 total yards from scrimmage in a game against the Giants so far this season. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is more than capable of becoming the second such player to accomplish that feat on Sunday. However, to do that, he’s likely going to need several catches in this contest for around 60 or so yards.
Put Your Coates On Early – The Steelers really need to get wide receiver Sammie Coates back involved in the offense catching passes as he has just one reception for 4 yards since breaking his fingers way back in Week 5. Against the Giants, an early high percentage pass or two to Coates from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would probably be advisable. The Giants defense has given up quite a few deep pass completions entering Sunday and Coates figures to see one-on-one coverage at some point during the game from cornerback Eli Apple. Expect Roethlisberger to go deep a few more times to Coates on Sunday just as he did on Thanksgiving and hopefully the two can connect deep for the first time since Week 5.
Gettis After The Giants Left Side – With Giants guard Justin Pugh set to miss yet another game with an injury, Adam Gettis will more than likely get the start in his place at left guard. While the Giants heavy use of 11 personnel in this game will force the Steelers to play a lot of sub package defense, defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave will still get several runs at Gettis. Additionally, while Giants quarterback Eli Manning has only been sacked 13 times all season, his left tackle Erik Flowers has had his share of problems in pass protection. In other words, Steelers linebacker James Harrison along with either Tuitt or Hargrave should be expected to have some success getting after Manning on Sunday. Manning has fumbled five times so far this season when sacked so odds are good if the Steelers get to him on Sunday it could result in a turnover.
Hash Marks And Numbers – When you look at the big plays the Giants have given up this season and also study their defensive scheme, you’ll see that they are vulnerable to deep passes between the outside of the hashmarks to the edge of the numbers. A few offenses have managed to take advantage of this even with two-receiver routes and out of a heavy personnel package. Look for Roethlisberger to connect vertically with one of his wide receivers or tight ends in this specific area of the field and more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage.
Limit OBJ YAC – The Steelers aren’t going to completely shut down Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but they can limit his YAC (yards after the catch) on Sunday which will really help in the hidden yardage department. 37.3% of Beckham’s receiving yardage this season has come after the catch and he averages 5.2 extra yards after every grab. 4 of Beckham’s 8 touchdown receptions have been from 26 or more yards out with two of those being 66 yards or longer. There was a lot of YAC allowed on those plays and the Steelers defense must keep him in front of them in this game and hopefully out of the end zone as well.
Make The G-Men Blue In The Red Zone – The Giants offense is sure to enter the red zone a few times on Sunday and so far this season they have the third-best red zone conversion rate on the road in the NFL as 72.73 percent of all their red zone trips in opposing stadiums have ended in touchdowns. The Steelers defense enters this contest with a league-best 41.67 red zone stop percentage, however, they’re slightly worse than that at home (50.0%). Holding the Giants’ offense to under 50% in the red zone Sunday at Heinz Field “should” result in the Steelers winning this game.
Steal A Short Field Possession – While the Giants defense has struggled to get sacks and turnovers at times this season, they’re still a great unit against the pass. Because of that, the Steelers offense is likely going to need a short field or two to work on in this game. It’s been a while since the Steelers special team unit has provided the offense a short field to work with. Can they provide one on Sunday?