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10 things to watch for vs. Steelers


Here are 10 storylines to follow as the Giants take on the Steelers Sunday at 4:25 PM ET:


>[Collins wins Nov. NFC defensive award](
>[Vereen taks first steps toward return](
>[No time for nostalgias for McAdoo](
>[Through the Years: Giants vs. Steelers](
>[CrossFire: Gameplanning for Pittsburgh](

Before landing his first job in the NFL, Ben McAdoo, among other stops, spent 2003 as an offensive assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. The Panthers operated out of the Rooney Sports Complex, and right across the hall were the Pittsburgh Steelers, who share the facility to this day. So McAdoo got a firsthand look at one of the league's cornerstone franchises, and 13 years later, he is now the head coach of another with the New York Giants.

"To tell you the truth, I don't have a second to think about it," McAdoo, who grew up roughly 60 miles east of Pittsburgh in Homer City, Pa., said in his weekly interview with "Everything we do here is focused. Our schedule is so detailed and we're so focused on what we're trying to get done during the course of the week to get ready to play a game against a good opponent. Maybe when I drive through the (Fort Pitt) tunnel, it may hit me there a little bit. Other than that, we're focused on winning the ballgame."


December is no time for nostalgia. The 8-3 Giants are riding a six-game winning streak into the home stretch, marking the beginning of a five-game finish against teams with a combined record of 34-20-1 after Week 12. They currently hold the first Wild Card spot – the 6-4-1 Washington Redskins have the other -- while the Dallas Cowboys continue to pace the entire league, let alone the NFC East, by winning their 11th game in a row on Thursday night and improving to 11-1. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is on the outside looking in at 6-5. But the playoff field is far from decided with five games to play.


Out: LG Justin Pugh (knee), S Nat Berhe (concussion), LB Mark Herzlich (concussion), DE Owa Odighizuwa (knee) Questionable: OL Brett Jones (calf), OL Marshall Newhouse (knee) *RB Shane Vereen (triceps) has been designated for return from injured reserve and returned to practice this week. The Giants have 21 days to activate him or he must remain on the injured reserve list for the remainder of the season.


Out: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot), RB DeAngelo Williams (knee)


Former general manager Ernie Accorsi, who was inducted into the Giants Ring of Honor earlier this month, has said that Ben Roethlisberger could have ended up in East Rutherford if the front office was unable to pull off the draft day trade to acquire Eli Manning in 2004. But that's not what the football gods had in mind. Manning, the No. 1 overall pick, was sent to the Giants, and the Steelers took Roethlisberger at No. 11. It turned out well for both sides. Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP with four Pro Bowl selections, and Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion as well as a four-time Pro Bowler. Roethlisberger is 2-1 in the head-to-head matchup.


Sunday features two of the league's best receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown, but we could also see them make things happen as punt returners. Beckham returned three of them last week for an average of 11.7 yards with a long of 19 yards and had a touchdown called back because of a holding penalty. While we wait to see if he does so again, keep in mind that Beckham claimed the 2013 Hornung Award at LSU as college football's most versatile player after leading the SEC and ranking No. 2 in the nation in all-purpose yards. Meanwhile, Brown has returned four punts for touchdowns in his NFL career.

These five players could make a key impact in Sunday's matchup vs. the Steelers


The Giants have yet to score 30 points in a game this season, something they had already done four times at this point last year and seven total. Big Blue is currently 21st in the NFL in scoring 21 points per game, down from its 2015 average of 26.3. But the important part is that no opponent has scored 30 points this season on the Giants, who are allowing just 19.4 points per game (tied for fifth entering Week 13).


The Giants have to pick their poison when it comes to Pittsburgh's offense. Aside from Brown, the Steelers have another All-Pro in running back Le'Veon Bell, who is averaging 142 yards from scrimmage in eight games. After serving a three-game suspension for violating the NFL Substance Abuse Policy, Bell has 699 yards and three touchdowns on 151 carries to go along with 437 yards and a score on 57 receptions.


The NFL named Landon Collins the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November, which included 30 tackles, three interceptions, five passes defensed and a sack from the second-year safety. This week, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, "I think that Landon is maybe the defensive player of the year." Meanwhile, Jason Pierre-Paul is the NFC Defensive Player of the Week coming off his career-high three sacks against the Browns. He also forced a fumble and returned another for a 43-yard touchdown. Pierre-Paul has six of the Giants' 21 sacks during their six-game winning streak.


If it feels like you've sweated out every Giants game this year, it's because you have. And so has the rest of the NFL. Through Week 12, there have been 135 games within one score in the fourth quarter, 106 games decided by eight points or fewer, and 99 games decided by seven points – all the most in the first 12 weeks of a season in league annals. The Giants are one of three teams to have all of their games within one score in the fourth quarter this season. Pittsburgh has been an exception to the rule. None of the Steelers' games have been decided by fewer than five points, and they have an average margin of victory of 18.8 points, the most among teams with more than one victory (the 1-10 San Francisco 49ers won their only game in a 28-point shutout in Week 1). Something has to give.

Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Steelers

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