Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Schedule Preview Week 9: at New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - AUGUST 21: Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants fights with Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers resulting in them both being ejected from the game during their preseason game at New Meadowlands Stadium on August 21 2010 in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The defending champs host the Steelers Week 9 boasting a potent offensive led by some of the best skill position players in the game.

QB Eli Manning joined the illustrious and far-more-common 5,000 yard club last season largely in part of arguably the best pair of receivers in the NFL, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.

The Giants' offense isn't pretty but it comes after its opponents on every play, and pressure on Manning only makes him better. It's one of the best non-divisional games on the NFL calendar in 2012.

Giants Improvements

It's tough to generally improve a Super Bowl champion, but last year's Giants squad was 9-7 and edged its way into the playoffs at the end of the season. They didn't play consistent football during the year, but much like its 2007 Super Bowl champion counterpart, the team leans on a core group offensively and defensively, and gets lesser-known guys to step up and play well.

A good example of that is former Cowboys TE Martellus Bennett, whom the Giants picked up in free agency. A solid run-blocker and pass protector, he's the kind of role player coach Tom Coughlin can work into his system with success. They also picked up DT Shaun Rogers, who played well in a limited role in New Orleans in 2011.

Giants Losses

The headliner is third WR Mario Manningham, who's huge catch in Super Bowl XLVI helped the Giants defeat New England, parlayed it into a free agency deal with San Francisco. They're also cutting ties with LT Kareem McKenzie, who hasn't garnered any interest on the free agency market, and probably won't be missed much in New York.

Firebrand RB Brandon Jacobs is joining Manningham in San Francisco, but a pass-first team doesn't rely heavily on its second running back anyway. DE Dave Tollefson signing with Oakland and WR Devin Thomas joining the Bears won't be major hits either.

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