Week 9 action offers up a tasty treat of a game when the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Las Vegas has put out a point spread of -3, but I think that is far too much respect for the road team. Let's take a closer look at why I think the Giants will win, and cover this number.
Rounding out the week of the short favorites are the New York Giants. I should give a personal 'thank you' to the Steelers for winning the last two weeks, because it has provided some favorable line movement for this game.
I believe far too many games are being offered at -3.25 this week, so I'm more than happy to grab some of them. The look-ahead line had New York -3.5, but I thought even that was generous. The Giants should be the clear favorites in this game and if I was setting the line I'd have it -4.5 (at the least). Instead, we are seeing a bunch of -3's available (odds from SBRforum).
Let's begin this analysis with what both of these teams have in common.
Great leadership? Check.
Super Bowl moxy? Check.
Solid coaching? Check.
Great quarterbacks, passing attacks, and clutch play? Check, check, check.
There's no question that both of these teams have a lot going for them in these categories. There's only a handful of offenses I'd rather have on the field when the game is on the line than these two.
The problem for the Steelers is the stark differences found on the other side of the ball and in a couple other key situations.
Who Can Get a Stop?
What I like most about this Giants team is their ability to rise to the occasion when things get tough. Down three scores at home vs the Buccaneers? No problem. Severely undermanned heading into Carolina? Big deal. Blow a huge lead against a fierce division rival on the road? Just another day at the office.
There's many reasons why New York is 6-2 on the year and it would take too long to cover all of them in depth, but they rank in the top third in almost every ranking across the board. They play the run well, disrupt and stop most drives, keep people out of the end zone, sack the quarterback, and win the turnover battle.
They do all of these things better than the Steelers defense, despite what they pulled off in the last two weeks. The Steelers run, 3rd down, and red zone defense all rank below average. They've been up and down stopping the pass, and haven't gotten to the QB consistently either. They also racked up all these stats against below average offenses.
Now that Ryan Clark is being evaluated for a concussion, Pittsburgh if facing the possibility of him and Polamalu out for this game. Dick Lebeau is one of the best in the business, but the Giants offense is much more efficient than Cincinnati or Washington.
If Big Ben has the ball down one score and two minutes to go, I might not like this play, but over the course of 60 minutes I'll take my chances with this Giants defense. The home crowd isn't about to intimidate the Steelers either, but keep in mind that Pittsburgh is 1-3 on the road this season.
The Steelers will get a lot of support in this spot, especially if people can get the +3.5, but side-by-side there should be no comparison of these teams. A line of -3 suggests that these two are relatively even on a neutral field. I don't think so. Lay the points and ride the defending champs.
NFL Pick: NYG -3.