What’s at Stake Today for the Giants, Steelers

John Fennelly , Lead Writer

Once again, it’s hard to concentrate on football with all that’s going (and not going) on around here. This is not the venue to vent, however. Emotions are high and the Giants thrive on adversity, as we all know. I would be shocked (shocked, I say) if they came out flat today and got outhustled. Not making any predictions, because predicting Giant games the past few years is a pretty much a crapshoot.

Today, the Giants host the Steelers in a game that could make or break Pittsburgh’s season. It also could put the Giants in the driver’s seat in the NFC East.

The Giants are 6-2 and sitting atop the NFC East, 2 1/2 games ahead of the 3-4 Eagles and Cowboys and 3 games in front of Washington. ¬†With a W, the Blue maintains that lead at the least. That’s provided the other teams all win, which is unlikely. The Redskins are hosting the struggling Panthers, so they have the best shot at a win this week. Dallas is in Atlanta to face the undefeated Falcons and the Eagles will be in New Orleans tomorrow night, where the Saints have a clear advantage. Can’t see the NFC East going 4-0 this week.

Should the Giants get to seven wins today, they will be in great shape. They travel to Cincinnati next week, before their bye in Week 11. They will need that game regardless of what happens today because they have a hellish schedule the rest of the way: Green Bay, at Washington, New Orleans, at Atlanta, at Baltimore and home vs the Eagles. They can actually go 3-4 in those games and still win the division, but if they can enter the last six games with seven or eight wins n their pocket, that would take the usual last-season pressure off – for once.

The 4-3 Steelers need a win here to keep pace in the AFC North, a division that is not considered as strong as it has been in recent years. Baltimore is currently 5-2, but their defense has been sagging of late, especially against the run with Ray Lewis out. They are actually being carried by the offense. These are not the Ravens we are accustomed to.

They have yet to play the Steelers, who will be getting their running game back in gear the next few weeks. They also have to face four very potent offenses in the Giants, Broncos, Redskins and Chargers in the second half.

Cincinnati is 3-4, after losing their last three. They look to be no better than an 8-8 team this year. Cleveland is more competitive than their 2-6 record might indicate, but they are on to double-digit losses again. A win today for Pittsburgh would position them nicely for the second half.