Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U) vs. New York Giants (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U)
NFL: Friday, August 11, 2017, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, 7 pm ET
Lines: New York Giants -2.5; Over/Under: 38
It’s week one of the full preseason schedule for the National Football League. The Pittsburgh Steelers kick off their preseason slate as they travel to face the New York Giants Friday night. Pittsburgh was 1-3 in the preseason in 2016 but that didn’t stop them from making a run to the AFC Championship Game. New York was 2-2 in the preseason and made their first playoff appearance in five years. The Giants hold a 44-30-3 edge in the all-time regular season series though the Steelers have taken three of four. That includes a 24-14 win at home on December 4, 2016 in the most recent meeting.
Pittsburgh Steelers Look to Take Next Step
Pittsburgh won the AFC North last season with an 11-5 mark to make the postseason for the third straight year and seventh in the 10 years under coach Mike Tomlin. The Steelers went on to down Miami in the wild card game and Kansas City in the divisional round before falling to New England in the AFC Championship Game. Pittsburgh still has Ben Roethlisberger (328 of 509, 3,819 yards, 29 TD, 13 INT) at quarterback but he’s 35 now and one has to wonder how many miles he has left considering the number of hits he’s taken in his career. The Steelers were 10th in the league in scoring offense last season with 24.9 points per game but the engine that drives the offense is running back Le’Veon Bell (261 carries, 1268 yards, 7 TD, 75 receptions, 616 yards, 2 TD): without him, things struggle. Bell was hurt in the AFC Championship Game and the offense became one-dimensional after that.
One thing for the Steelers right now is that Bell is holding out, leaving a thin group at running back: DeAngelo Williams wasn’t re-signed and third round pick James Conner is injured. That leaves the unimpressive Knile Davis, who has bounced around the league, along with Fitzgerald Toussaint, as the key backs at the moment. Antonio Brown (106 catches, 1284 yards, 12 TD) is the top receiving threat. If Martavis Bryant, who missed all of last year with a suspension, can return to his previous form, that deepens the receiving corps. Eli Rogers (48 catches, 594 yards, 3 TD as a rookie), rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster and Sammie Coates (21 grabs, 435 yards, 2 TD) are good secondary options. The team cut Ladarius Green as he couldn’t stay healthy last season, which means Jesse James and Xavier Grimble have to step up and contribute. Pittsburgh was 10th in scoring defense, allowing 20.2 points a game but they have to find a more dominant pass rusher. First round pick T.J. Watt was a solid addition, especially with James Harrison turning 39 in the offseason.
New York Giants Seek Another Playoff Run
New York managed to win 11 games last season and make the playoffs despite having a point differential of a team that was expected to win 8.8 games. The Giants can’t expect to rely on their defense as much as they did last season: the team was 2nd in the league in scoring defense by giving up only 17.8 points a game. There isn’t much in the way of turnover on the defensive side of the ball, unless you count second round pick Dalvin Tomlinson, who is going to step in for the departed Johnathan Hankins. The linebacker group is underwhelming and will put pressure on the defensive line and secondary groups to make plays.
The Giants were terrible offensively last season as they were 26th in scoring offense with 19.4 points per game. New York was 17th in passing offense and a dismal 29th in rushing offense while ranking dead last in rushing touchdowns with six. Eli Manning (377 of 598, 4027 yards, 26 TD, 16 INT) is back at quarterback but he’s 36 at this point. There’s no guaranteed future starter on the depth chart as Geno Smith and Josh Johnson failed in previous stops. The team drafted Davis Webb from Cal in the third round but he’s not used to a pro-style offense. That means the Giants could be in trouble should Manning go down for any extended period of time. Paul Perkins (112 carries, 456 yards, two TD) gets first crack as the feature back with Rashad Jennings gone. Shane Vereen likely will be the third-down back while fourth-round pick Wayne Gallman will get a shot as well. The passing game will be centered around Odell Beckham Jr. (101 grabs, 1367 yards, 10 TD), Sterling Shepard (65 catches, 683 yards, 8 TD) and free agent acquisition Brandon Marshall.
- Steelers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games
- Steelers are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games overall
- No Key Trends
Preseason action, especially in the opening week, means that teams are going to be extremely cautious with their starters. Pittsburgh has issues at the running back position though Conner’s injury is a sprained AC joint and he’s expected to be back sooner rather than later. The Giants have a major drop-off in talent at the QB position even with Manning regressing at this point. Webb, Smith and Johnson don’t inspire much in the way of confidence. Look for the Steelers, with Landry Jones as the #2 QB, to get the win in this contest.