Commentary

Who are the top players in the Giants-Steelers matchup?

Four of the top five players in the Giants-Steelers matchup love to attack the quarterback.

Originally Published: October 23, 2008
By Matt Williamson | Scouts Inc.

Scouts Inc. runs down the best 20 players in the Giants-Steelers showdown. And it shouldn't be surprising to see that four of the top five players love to attack the quarterback.

Top 20 Players in Giants-Steelers Game

No. Player Team
1. ROLB James Harrison
He is on pace to break the NFL's single-season sack record and is simply playing at an unbelievable level right now. He isn't a household name like some of the others on this list -- but he very soon will be.
2. QB Ben Roethlisberger
He is very unconventional at times and is a big-time risk taker, but Big Ben is also a big-time playmaker. This is his football team, and he takes his game up a notch when the pressure is on.
3. DE Justin Tuck
He's a stout strongside defensive end who is a powerful pass-rusher, and he can beat his opponents any way he sees fit -- much like his mentor Michael Strahan.
4. DE Aaron Smith
He is the unsung hero on a very good defense. The Steelers' defense absolutely crumbled down the stretch last year as soon as he was lost with a biceps injury. He is remarkably consistent, and there isn't a better run defender in the league.
5. SS Troy Polamalu
When Polamalu is healthy, this is an entirely different defense. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will use his star safety in every way you can imagine.
6. WR Plaxico Burress
The former Pittsburgh wideout causes mismatches against just about every cornerback in the league due to his rare height (6-foot-5). He has taken his game to another level in New York, and is by far the most dangerous player on this offense.
7. RG Chris Snee
He is head coach Tom Coughlin's son-in-law, and he gets better each season he spends in the NFL. He is very mobile and excels at getting out in front of the play as a pulling guard. He is by far the best player on one of the elite offensive lines in the league.
8. QB Eli Manning
He has finally come out from behind his big brother's shadow. He has a ring of his own, and the Giants have become his team. Manning is worthy of building a team around.
9. LOLB LaMarr Woodley
The Steelers let Clark Haggans walk because they knew what they had in Woodley. He's an explosive, powerful and game-changing pass-rusher who can also set the edge versus the run. Everyone in Pittsburgh knows just how good he is, but now the rest of the league is starting to find out as well.
10. TE Heath Miller
Miller's role is expanding, and he is capable of doing whatever offensive coordinator Bruce Arians asks of him. He can bang with defensive ends in the run game or detach from the formation and exploit safety or linebacker coverage. He's a handful, but not enough people know it.
11. WR Hines Ward
Defenders must keep their head on a swivel around Ward -- just ask Bengals LB Keith Rivers. Ward is one of a kind, and someone Roethlisberger counts on when the chips are down. If he keeps it up, he might just end up in the Hall of Fame someday.
12. WR Santonio Holmes
After leading the NFL in yards per reception last year, many expected Holmes to establish himself as one of the game's best pass-catchers. However, he hasn't lived up to those lofty expectations -- mostly because the Steelers' offensive line has not given Roethlisberger enough time to throw deep. He is still a fine player, who has gotten stronger and is refining the other aspects of his game.
13. NT Casey Hampton
He can sit down and anchor as well as anyone in the league, and is very difficult to move backwards in the run game. Hampton's presence makes everyone around him better.
14. MLB Antonio Pierce
He is the cerebral leader of this talented defense. Pierce acts as an extension of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on the field. But he is more than just the guy who gets his teammates lined up properly, because he also makes a ton of plays.
15. RB Brandon Jacobs
There isn't a runner in the league as bruising as Jacobs, and he is having an excellent season, punishing defenders as he goes. His violent and high running style puts him at risk for injuries, but when he is right, no one wants to attempt to get him on the ground.
16. CB Corey Webster
Webster is having an excellent season, but he is very fortunate to have such strong pass-rushers on his side.
17. RB Willie Parker
He is getting over a knee injury, but Parker has been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL since taking over the starting role in Pittsburgh. He is a threat to take it to the house on every snap.
18. RT Kareem McKenzie
He is better coming off the ball in the run game than he is in pass protection, but he isn't a slouch when kick sliding, either. He's a solid right tackle, who pairs with Snee to make up one of the best sides of any offensive line in the league.
19. DT Barry Cofield
He is one of the members of the Giants' elite defensive line who doesn't get the publicity he deserves. Cofield can collapse the pocket as a pass-rusher, but his true value is shutting down the inside run game.
20. CB Ike Taylor
He is a fine player who has an excellent combination of height and speed. Taylor tends to cover his opponents' No. 1 receiver.