Sunday, October 26, 2008

Giants: What are the Chances...?

Yet another extremely difficult game to project a winner; this game seems like a toss-up. From the Steelers’ perspective the two keys to the game are: Protecting Ben Roethlisberger and keeping Plaxico Burress in check. It wouldn’t surprise me if Pittsburgh’s pass protection falters much as it did against Philadelphia, if not quite to the same degree. Steelers fans also know that a motivated Plax is a dangerous Plax, and this will be a statement game for Burress, who’s probably still jacked up about Michigan State beating Michigan in Ann Arbor yesterday.

Thus far, the Steelers haven’t had trouble plugging in substitutes for players lost to injury, but one wonders if this is the week the losses catch up to them. In particular, I’m concerned about the loss of CB Bryant McFadden and WR Santonio Holmes, and if DE Aaron Smith doesn’t suit up that could also have significant implications in terms of stopping the Giants’ powerful running attack.

My heart says Big Ben will find a way to win this game (as he finds a way almost every week), but my head says the Giants’ pass rush (and the Steelers’ injuries/inactives) will enable Big Blue to prevail. I’m giving the Steelers a 48 percent chance of winning.

That said, it's time to address the Eli or Ben argument. The idea that Eli Manning has surpassed Roethlisberger as a QB is borderline silly. Yes, Eli played better than Ben in their respective Super Bowls (Ben was only 23, however), and Manning is almost certainly a more dangerous two-minute/hurry up QB, but other than that Roethlisberger is a significantly better player. In terms of numbers, Big Ben is in the top five all-time in terms of key stats like winning percentage and passer rating (virtually identical to Tom Brady). I'd be curious to see where Ben would stand if one takes the motorcycle accident/appendectomy/concussion season out of the equation. He might very well be #1 in NFL history in every important QB indicator.

The funny thing is that Big Ben has improved noticeably since his Super Bowl season. What is most impressive now is how he has managed to thrive, in spite of playing behind one of the three or four worst pass protecting offensive lines in the league. If Eli Manning got the "protection" — and I use that word loosely — that Ben has been getting, Giants fans would have booed Eli out of New York by now.

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