New York Giants (8-3 SU, 6-4-1 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5 SU, 6-5 ATS)
Week 13 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: NYG +5.5/PIT -5.5
Over/Under Total: 50
The New York Giants come to Heinz Field on Sunday for a key matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 13. The Steelers scored a much-needed win on Thanksgiving against the Colts, 28-7. The win put them back above .500 at 6-5, which is good for a first-place tie in the AFC North. Despite all their issues, their season can start now and the Steelers can try to forget the first 11 games where they definitely under-performed. The Giants, meanwhile, scored their sixth win in a row to move their record to 8-3 with a 27-13 win over Cleveland on Sunday. They face their second home game in a row and look to stay in the NFC East race with an inside track for a wild card if Dallas keeps winning.
The Steelers were not explosive on Thanksgiving and they did benefit from the Colts being without QB Andrew Luck. But a win is a win and we saw the Pittsburgh offense starting to re-form after a wayward stretch that saw them lose four in a row. With a 24-9 win over the Browns and the win over Indy, they have now won 2 in a row and maybe they're slowly peaking in time for a late-season run. Granted, that has a lot to do with playing the Browns and a Colts team that is really diminished without Luck, but two wins has certainly done this team good.
The Steelers' offense is not what many imagined. Key injuries and suspensions have robbed this group of continuity, in addition to some key guys. But with Ben Roethlisberger in there with Le'Veon Bell in the backfield, with receiving talent like Antonio Brown, they're always a threat to turn it loose. It's just that the rest of the cast has not consistently contributed to the overall cause. They've gotten spotty production here and there, but not the dynamic support they had before personnel losses robbed them of their extra fire.
Ben Roethlisberger has done the most with what he has for the most part, though his performance hasn't been that great in some games, either. Le'Veon Bell had 120 yards on the ground with a touchdown, along with 4 catches. But he hasn't been the same usual dynamo who was producing with big runs and catches in the past. Antonio Brown had three touchdown scores on Thanksgiving. He's still a handful, but without key receivers contributing, the Pittsburgh aerial attack has taken a step back. Sammie Coates, who was big early in the season with a slew of big plays has been invisible, though finger issues have been a large culprit in that happening. Eli Rogers showed signs, but has also been quiet. With Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey injured and Martavis Bryant suspended, along with the youth movement not taking hold, the Pittsburgh aerial game has suffered. And it's a big reason an offense many projected to be the best is struggling to remain one the top dozen of the league.
The Pittsburgh defense has gotten a bit healthier after being ravaged by injuries for much of the season. Getting Ryan Shazier back to full speed has started to pay off, as the "D" has been more aggressive, while limiting opponents to 16 combined points in their last two games. The offense is the more celebrated part of the team and was therefore the more-obvious culprit for things going badly. But injuries and inconsistent play had turned a Pittsburgh defense that looked to be on its way up into a struggling group that had little foothold during the Steelers rough points this season. Again, keeping a lid on the Browns and Luck-less Colts offenses aren't a sign of a revival, but the last few weeks have allowed this group to feel what it's like to be successful and maybe they've rediscovered some of their footing.
The Giants have been on a big old roll and somewhat quietly. Looking back through recent history, we should be leery when a good Giants team starts developing. On Sunday, they became the latest team to hand defeat to the poor Browns. Eli Manning wasn't all that prolific, but he did complete 3 TD passes and that was more than enough. There have been games where he was off-target, but he's been more efficient. He connected twice with star receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., who shook off some uneven showings earlier in the season, as he is among the leaders in yardage and has 8 receiving TDs. Victor Cruz had a big catch on Sunday, while Sterling Shepard added a nice run on a reverse. Paul Perkins and Rashad Jennings added some nice production on the ground. While the New York run-game is wholly unreliable, a little upswing in that category could give the aerial attack more teeth as they head into the final part of the regular season.
DEPOSIT $100 AND GET $100 FREE TO BET THE GIANTS VS. STEELERS GAME AT ONE OF THE WEB'S OLDEST SPORTSBOOKS: BOVADA SPORTSBOOK
The defense is a big part of the Giants' new look this season. They really dedicated a lot of energy and money to this side of the ball and it didn't take long to pay off. Safety Landon Collins has been making plays in the secondary and is all over the field. Jason Pierre-Paul, who had been showing signs of recapturing his old form, delivered big on Sunday with three sacks. First-year Giants Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins also registered sacks. During this 6-game win streak, the Giants have given up an average of 19 points and with this offense, that's usually going to be good enough. One of the better defenses against the run so far this season, we'll see how the Giants cope with Le'Veon Bell on Sunday.
These cross-conference games can be hard on teams like the Giants, with so many players having never even been to Heinz Field. We sometimes see teams off their peak form in games like this. But in terms of on-the-field action, the Giants look to be the better team. They have an identity and are getting the most of what they have, whereas the Steelers are working toward getting to their peak form—something that might not even be there with all the personnel issues. The spread is almost assuming a vintage Steelers team and we haven't seen that this season. I'm taking the Giants.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the New York Giants plus 5.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!