New York Giants (5-1) +3, 42 at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1), 4:15 pm Eastern Sunday, Fox
by Zman of Predictem.com
The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants are off to a good start on their quest for back-to-back league titles. The Pittsburgh Steelers are off to a fine start in their quest to return to the Super Bowl after a couple of years away.
So it will be two of the best teams in the league going at it in a possible Super Bowl 43 preview when the Giants visit Heinz Field to take on the Steelers Sunday afternoon.
NFL bookmakers are listing Pittsburgh as three-point home favorites for Sunday’s game, with a total of 42. The Steelers are also listed at right around -150 on various off-shore moneylines, with the G-Men getting +130 as road underdogs.
The Giants, at 5-1, lead the NFC East by a half-game over the second-place Washington Redskins, and own the best record in the NFC. They’ve beaten Washington 16-7, St. Louis 41-13, Cincinnati 26-23 in overtime, Seattle 44-6 and, last Sunday, San Francisco 29-17. Their only setback came two Mondays ago in that 35-14 defeat in Cleveland.
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Also 5-1, the Steelers lead the AFC North by two games over the Baltimore Ravens. And they trail the undefeated Tennessee Titans by one game in the race for the best record in the AFC. Pittsburgh has beaten Houston 38-17, Cleveland 10-6, Baltimore 23-20 in overtime, Jacksonville 26-21 and, last week, Cincinnati 38-10. Their only loss came in week 3, when they fell at Philadelphia 15-6.
The quarterback match-up in this game features a couple of young guns from the draft class of ’04 who have already won Super Bowls. And both are putting up good numbers so far this season. New York’s Eli Manning has completed 62% of his passes for a 7.3 yards-per-attempt average and an 8/4 TD/INT ratio, while Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger has hit on 63% of his throws for a 7.8 YPA average and a 9/3 TD/INT ratio.
New York ranks 2nd in the league this season in total offense at 395 YPG, 1st in rushing at 170 YPG, 2nd in scoring at 28 PPG, 4th in total defense at 275 YPG, 5th vs. the run at 85 YPG and 6th in points allowed at 17 PPG.
Pittsburgh ranks 25th in total offense at 299 YPG, 18th in rushing at 109 YPG, 13th in scoring at 24 PPG, 1st in total defense at 228 YPG, 2nd vs. the run at 70 YPG and 2nd in points allowed at 15 PPG.
The Giants also rank 3rd in the league in average time-of-possession at 33:10, while the Steelers rank 16th at 30:43.
These two teams last met in December of 2004, when the Steelers went to the Meadowlands and came away with a 33-30 win.
On the injury front, Pittsburgh will be without RB Willie Parker for the 4th straight game as he deals with a bad knee. Also, S Troy Polamalu left last week’s game with a concussion, but he’s listed as probable for Sunday. On the other side, New York is relatively healthy across the board.
The totals are 4-2 in Giants games this season, which are averaging 45 total points. The totals are also 4-2 in Steelers games this year, despite averaging just 38 points.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks the Giants 8th at 24.0, Pittsburgh 3rd at 27.1 Sagarin’s updated NFL home-field advantage figure sits at 3.8.
Zman’s Pick: I’m not a real fan of -3 home favorites, however the NYG aren’t playing the type of ball to warrant a pick. Pittsburgh on the other hand, seems to adjust to injuries/issues and just keeps on rolling on. I see them winning at home vs. NY by a touchdown or more.