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Better Know the Enemy: Pittsburgh Steelers

A look ahead at this week's Giants foe

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Oct 31, 2012  |  Updated 10:08 AM EDT
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Rock Stars: Then and Now

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Thankfully, the Steelers won't be wearing these uniforms on Sunday.

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The Steelers and the Giants are like something out of the old European monarchies. 

Both teams have been owned by the same family since entering the league, holding onto power through massive changes to the country and the sport as long as some of the old royal families. And, like those royal families, the Rooneys and Maras have even intermarried (Oscar nominee Rooney Mara is a result of that) to create an even stronger connective thread between the two organizations. 

The similarities keep coming. The Steelers are the rare team that sticks with coaches even longer than the Giants, both teams have a strange habit of talking up the importance of the running game while handing the reins to the offense to their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterbacks (who were drafted in the same year) and they enjoy getting after the quarterback defensively. 

All of that makes this infrequent matchup a more interesting one than some of the other interconference battles that pop up on the schedule. About the only difference between the teams is their standing in the league at this moment. 

The Giants are running away with the NFC East in about the most frustrating way possible for their pursuers. They give the other team a chance to win just about every week and then come up with a way to win the game while playing as well as they're capable of playing for the shortest possible time every week. 

The Steelers stumbled early, they've suffered serious injuries to key players on both sides of the ball and find themselves chasing other teams in the hunt for a playoff spot. Somewhere in the hearts of those other AFC teams lies a fear of what the Steelers might be if Troy Polamalu can return to full health and the offense can determine its identity with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. 

That should sound familiar to Giants fans who watched the team return from the dregs to win the Super Bowl last season. Based on all the other links between the franchises, that makes perfect sense. 

Here's a look at some of the players who will try to grab a win at MetLife Stadium. 

Big Ben Keeps Ticking - Ben Roethlisberger's willingness to take hits makes him a rare quarterback and the fact that he wants to take more of them makes him even rarer. Big Ben doesn't like what he calls the "dink and dunk" nature of Haley's offense, although the fact that the passing offense still ranks seventh in the league makes it hard to feel too bad for Roethlisberger. 

The Other Mike Wallace - The standout receiver missed the entire offseason after being slapped with a restricted free agent tender that didn't get other teams to bite and never got the long-term contract he wanted to get from the Steelers. His numbers are down a bit as a result of the offensive shift, but things have started to go the other way and he'll have chances against the shaky Giants secondary this weekend.

Who Likes Ike? - Cornerback Ike Taylor has long been considered Pittsburgh's best cover man, but the results haven't been quite so good this season. Taylor is going to have his hands full with either Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz, so it's a good bet that Eli Manning will be testing him early and often on Sunday. 

Next Man Up - Jonathan Dwyer started the year third on the depth chart at running back for the Steelers, but injuries have pushed him into the starting job and he's responded with two straight big games. The Giants have had mixed success against the run this season and Dwyer will prove to be a good challenge. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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