The Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants are ready to square off at Heinz Field in Week 13 NFL action. As we usually do, I went behind enemy lines to talk with Ed Valentine, editor of Big Blue View (SB Nation’s Giants website) to talk about the upcoming matchup.
We talk the Giants’ running game, their streaky defense and predictions for the game. Check out the interview below, and be sure to check Big Blue View for all your information from the other side of the fence in this game.
The Giants have a prolific offense with a great pass protecting offensive line. What has been the issue with their running game?
Couple of things. This isn't a mauling offensive line. It's got good pass protection numbers, but it's a little deceiving because the Giants generally throw the ball very quickly. They signed ex-Steeler Will Johnson to be their primary blocking tight end/fullback, but he's been on IR all year and isn't eligible to come back. They don't maul guys up front ad primary back Rashad Jennings ins't a "make guys miss" runner. He will get what is available.
Despite only being sacked 13 times, Eli Manning and the offense has had issues with turnovers. Their -5 turnover ratio is surprising as an 8-3 team riding a 6-game winning streak. What has been the root cause of these turnover issues?
Well, part of the -5 is that for a long while the defense wasn't creating turnovers. But, that has changed. The Giants do have too many giveaways, but the only giveaway in the last two weeks is a muffed punt, so maybe that is changing. As for why so many, I wish I could give you a common denominator.
The Giants defense is unique to me. Good in run support with some ball hawks in the back end. What would be the weakness of the defense?
The linebacker level would be the weak link, but they haven't been terrible. Devon Kennard is a good player and will put his hand in the dirt on passing downs. Jonathan Casillas has had a nice year, and Keenan Robinson helps in pass coverage. Still, it's a cobbled-together group.
How do you think the Giants will approach this game from both an offensive and defensive game plan perspective?
They won't change much from what the usually do. Three-wide on offense, short, quick passing game with some deep shots, trying to mix in the run game. On defense, Janoris Jenkins will probably follow Antonio Brown. Early on they will probably try to rush four, see if they can get to Ben Roethlisberger that day. If they can't, you'll see a lot of creative, five and six-man pressures.
Take a look into your crystal ball...how do you see this game shaking out? If you feel up to it, what would your prediction be?
The Giants are most definitely stepping up in class here. Their last three wins have come against team with a combined 5-28-1 record. I think the Giants will play well, but they have to get more from the offense and special teams than they have recently. My readers will kill me, but ... Pittsburgh 24, Giants 20.