A look at what the Steelers will be up against on Sunday afternoon against the New York Football Giants:
ELI'S COMING:** Quarterback Eli Manning continues to enjoy a resurgence in his third season with Ben McAdoo.
Manning threw only 18 touchdown passes and had an NFL-high 27 interceptions in 2013, the third time he'd led the league in INTs. But in the two seasons that followed, with McAdoo as his offensive coordinator, Manning reversed those numbers. In 2014, it was 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. And in 2015, Manning threw 35 TD passes and 14 INTs.
This season, McAdoo's first as the Giants' head coach, Manning has thrown for 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and has completed a career-high 63.2 percent of his passes.
The Giants don't run the ball well (No. 31, 79.5 yards per game), in part because the offensive line hasn't been consistent (four players have started at left guard). But Manning can see pressure coming and react to it well enough to minimize sacks (13, the Giants are No. 4 in sacks per play against). He's also still mobile enough to run a play-action bootleg and complete a pass on the run when the mood strikes.
Completing passes down the field has been an issue of late. The Giants took eight such shots in their 27-14 win on Nov. 27 in Cleveland. Only one was completed, a 37-yard strike to wide receiver Victory Cruz. Cruz and rookie wide receiver Roger Lewis Jr. are more likely to be targeted deep than wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham is much more adept at turning short and medium receptions into big plays by exploding for yards after the catch.
BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM:** His latest highlight-reel performance included catching a shallow cross 3 yards past the line of scrimmage, running away from cornerback Joe Haden and the rest of the Browns and scoring from 32 yards away (one of two TD catches on the day). Beckham is as combustible as he is eccentric.
FORMATION FASCINATION: The Giants have deployed three wide receivers (most often Beckham, Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard), one tight end and one running back on all but 27 offensive snaps this season. They run a lot of no-huddle, which keeps the defense from substituting. Tight end Will Tye lines up in a lot of different spots, which allows for different looks from the same personnel group.
COLLINS' WORTH:** Second-year strong safety Landon Collins has three sacks, five interceptions (one he returned 44 yards for a touchdown), 10 passes defensed and 87 tackles (72 solo).
Those numbers compare favorably with what Troy Polamalu produced when he was named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010: One forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one sack, seven interceptions (one returned 45 yards for a touchdown), 11 passes defensed and 63 tackles (49 solo). And Collins isn't finished yet.
Collins has made a habit of being where the ball winds up down the field, walking up to the line of scrimmage pre-snap and shooting a gap to get into the backfield, and bringing ballcarriers down with sure tackling. To say he's having a breakout season doesn't begin to accurately describe all he's doing for the Giants.
This season's Defensive P.O.Y. award might.
IN THE CONVERSATION:** The Giants' defensive line is among the best in the business.
End Jason Pierre-Paul pounced on the Browns to the tune of seven tackles, three sacks, three tackles for a loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery he returned 43 yards for a touchdown. Pierre-Paul, who has seven sacks on the season, moved up and down the line against Cleveland but seemed to most appreciate left end, where he regularly employed the "Wide 9" technique (similar to what the defensive ends in Dallas and Philadelphia like to do; must be an NFC East thing).
Olivier Vernon (five-and-a-half sacks) crashes from the other side.
Tackles Damon Harrison (6-foot-4, 343 pounds) and Johnathan Hankins (6-2, 320) are large, disruptive run-stuffers that can penetrate. Hankins has played 73 percent of the defensive snaps and Harrison 61, but the Giants can go eight-deep along the defensive line if they so desire.
The Steelers prepare for the Week 13 matchup against the New York Giants.
COVER ME:** Janoris Jenkins is the match-up cornerback. At 5-10, 198 he struggled with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor (six catches, 131 yards) at times. Not all of Pryor's catches came at Jenkins' expense, and Pryor was targeted 12 times.
SPECIAL CONCERNS: Wide receiver Dwayne Harris has one career kickoff-return TD and three career punt-return TDs (none this season). With Harris (wrist) banged up, the Giants tried running back Bobby Rainey in Cleveland. After Rainey fumbled a punt, they turned to Beckham, who returned one punt 26 yards (it was nullified by a penalty) and another 59 yards for a touchdown (it was nullified by a penalty). Beckham can explode on returns as well as receptions. Kicker Robbie Gould has missed three of 16 extra-point attempts, all in the last two games. The Giants haven't attempted or defended a two-point conversion.
HE SAID IT: "Does he look like he's just running at a different speed than everybody else? It's like a computer game." _ Fox analyst Matt Millen on Beckham during the Giants-Browns broadcast.