Take Two: Eli Manning vs Ben Roethlisberger
November 8, 2013 | Joe Siniscalchi
Last week was rough for yours truly. Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman is living up to his name as a quarterback guru, making two quarterbacks look impressive this season. Josh McCown carved up the Packers, hitting Brandon Marshall all night long, and rewarding the faithful with 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and even chipped in 20 rushing yards. Jake Locker, on the other hand, looked sloppy and failed to score more than a woeful Jeff Tuel, but managed at least a rushing touchdown. The Titans also looked to introduce a heavy rushing attack, a gameplan that didn’t help Locker.
As you get ready for the playoffs, there’s hope in the horizon. This week, both EJ Manuel and Jay Cutler return to action, and the vast majority of the bye week damage is over. If either are available in your league (Cutler most likely won’t be), grab them immediately.
JS: My Candidate For Week 10: Eli Manning (vs Oak)
The Raiders have been inconsistent on defense, ranking sixth against the run, but 25th against the pass. All season long, they have been the remedy for bad quarterback play, as they have been lit up by the likes up Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, and most recently, Nick Foles. This matchup should be the confidence boost that Eli Manning needs to get the Giants going if they want to make a division push.
There are several reasons I like Manning this week. First off, I like the Giants off a bye this week. Tom Coughlin knows how to prepare his teams during the off week, and I expect Manning spent a while in the film room in an effort to cut down on his mistakes. Second, the Giants offensive line has played much better over the last few weeks, surrendering five sacks over the last four weeks compared to 14 over the first four. Manning should see less pressure against a weak secondary that only has five interceptions along with a second highest quarterback rating of 105.0.
David Wilson was just placed on IR, but Andre Brown is expected to see the field after returning from a broken leg. Brown will be eased back into action, while Peyton Hillis and Mike Cox will be sprinkled in with a limited Brandon Jacobs. Overall, the Giants will lean on Manning to take advantage of the Raiders awful secondary and avoid their stiff run defense. Manning should be money in the bank for owners this week, and I think this may be his best game of the season in what should be a statement game for the Giants.
300/3/0 seems to be a benchmark that is very ascertainable for Manning, as he looks to turn things around for the Giants.
AO: My Candidate For Week 10: Ben Roethlisberger (vs Buf)
Last week Josh McCown worked out perfectly, I was off by only three passing yards, I nailed the number of scores and the rushing yards (and thankfully the “obligatory” turnover never materialized). Jake Locker on the other hand was less than spectacular, luckily a rushing touchdown salvaged his day. Chris Johnson’s big day ultimately did Locker in, against the woeful Jags this week it’s tough not to love him. Even so I’m looking elsewhere.
I’m not just chasing last week’s stats into this week with Big Ben, I really think he should have a big day. What I like about Roethlisberger specifically is his defense. They are not what they once were. This has led to an inflated number of passing attempts as the Steelers are playing from behind. On the season he’s completed 64.9 percent of his passes and averages 291.3 yards per game.
Like I said I love what Big Ben has quietly done yardage wise, his touchdown numbers could use some help. The Bills should provide the boost that he needs, they’ve allowed an average of over two passing touchdowns per game so far this season. If he can throw for his average and sprinkle in a pair of TD passes he’ll have a great game. On top of the touchdowns the Bills have allowed opposing QBs to top 300 yards four times so far this season.
Big Ben has been prone to turnovers (especially this season) but his passing yards should be inflated enough to cancel them out. He won’t throw for four touchdowns like last week (mainly because he won’t be playing a team that scores 50+ points), but two touchdowns can be expected – and three wouldn’t be ridiculous.
When it’s all said and done I expect Roethlisberger to finish the day with 350+ yards, 2-3 scores, and a pair of turnovers. Throw in 10-15 rushing yards for good measure and he’ll have a great day, even with the turnovers.
JS: Roethlisberger has quietly been playing well this season, throwing for 400 yards twice thus far. Unfortunately, the same problems persist for the Steelers in respect to the offensive line. The unit has once again been decimated by injuries, a seemingly annual trend. The Bills have been an average but generous defense, but what they giveth they taketh away. The are tied for second in the league with 12 interceptions and rank third with 29 sacks. They know how to get to the quarterback, and I’m sure Mario Williams is certainly licking his chops this week. Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd have also returned to action, helping stabilize the pass defense.
The Steelers will look to pound the ball with Le’veon Bell and restore some balance to an offense that ranks 8th to last in rushing attempts over the last three games, while attempting the eighth most passes over that span. I don’t think Big Ben is going to play bad here, but I do see him turning the ball over. I also don’t think he will have as big of a game as Manning.
Roethlisberger is a gunslinger who is not afraid to take over, but is prone to forcing the ball into areas he shouldn’t. Against an opportunistic defense like the Bills, I think Big Ben will probably have close to 300 yards, but will have at least two turnovers as well. 290/1/2 isn’t a bad stat line, but Manning will have a much better day against a defense that isn’t as good at making plays.
AO: It seems like every week I say “it’s tough to argue against _______ this week,” fill in the blank. But generally it’s true, so again I say: It’s tough to argue against Eli Manning this week. It’d be tough to argue against anyone when facing the Raiders a week after they gave up seven touchdown passes to Nick Foles. Nevertheless, I aim to poke holes in Joe’s argument so here goes nothing.
First of all let’s exclude Foles’ ridiculous performance last week, it was an apparition on both sides of the equation. Eli is going to torch anyone for 400 yards and seven touchdowns, not the way he’s playing this season. On the year he’s completed just 55 percent of his passes and he has five more interceptions than he does touchdowns. Over their last two contests the Giants have played better, Eli…not so much. In their two victories he has just one total touchdown and he failed to top 250 passing yards in either contest (in fact he’s failed to top 250 in his last three games). What has led to wins are improvements on the defensive side of the ball, not the offensive.
Looking at the broader picture, Eli has completed more than 60 percent of his passes just twice this season, thrown for more than one touchdown twice, and not thrown an interception twice. He averages more than two turnovers a game and just slightly over one touchdown. Don’t get me wrong, I love Eli. Just not this year. Not even in this matchup.
I do think he’ll break the 250-yard barrier this week and go for about 275, one touchdown pass and a pair of turnovers just won’t get the job done though. I really hope I’m wrong on this one.