The Giants have won six straight games and have an 8-3 record, but it’s hard to say exactly what kind of team they are. Sunday’s game against the Steelers should start to put that identity into a bit more focus.

“It’s going to be one of those games that tests us as a defense and a team overall to see what we’re about,” defensive end Olivier Vernon said.

The Giants haven’t faced a team with a winning record since the Eagles were 4-3 a month ago. Their last three opponents have five combined wins. Pittsburgh (6-5) starts a string of at least three straight games against teams over .500 with playoff aspirations that are similar to the Giants’.

While some people have jumped on the Giants’ bandwagon during this winning streak, others are holding off on that until the team starts to beat some better competition.

Safety Landon Collins said the Giants “love” that there are so many doubts about them.

“As a defensive team, I think we thrive off of it,” he said. “But we’ve been stopping teams from scoring, we’ve been making plays, we’ve been getting the ball back to the offense. Why would you doubt us? You’re going to doubt us, we’ll show you again.”

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They get a chance to do that Sunday.


Odell Beckham Jr. has been wearing custom-designed cleats in pregame warmups since last year, so he is able to offer some advice to those who will be doing so in a game for the first time during the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” promotion.

“You wear them new,” Beckham said. “Fresh out of the box.”

He admitted that “the dogs bark” at first when the shoes are not broken in, but “if you have to worry about broken-in cleats, you’ve got your mind on the wrong thing.”

This is the first time the league is allowing players to wear shoes that step outside the strict uniform rules. The designed cleats will be auctioned off for the charities they tout; Beckham’s shoes will honor the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Beckham said he’d like to see the NFL allow players to wear custom-designed cleats more often, and not necessarily tied to this promotion.

“As long as you’re not wearing something crazy,” he said. “We’re a blue and red team; as long as you’re not wearing electric green, I don’t really see a problem with custom cleats and things like that. But hey, everybody’s got their rules you have to follow. It is what it is.”


Rookie running back Paul Perkins has impressed Giants coaches not only with his runs and catches but with his blocking on passing downs. He made a few great blitz pickups against the Browns and linebacker Jamie Collins last week.

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“Paul Perkins was phenomenal,” offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. “That Jamie Collins is a load, and he matched up well. He did an excellent job in blocking his man and he continues to get better and better.”

Perkins has settled into a role as the team’s number two running back behind Rashad Jennings since the team returned from its bye a month ago. He has 147 rushing yards and 153 receiving yards this year, and the Giants are trusting him more and more.

“We still have a couple of instances where he has some uncertainty and Eli has to direct him a little bit too much,” Sullivan said. “He’s working on it. He did a good job this week.”


Landon Collins said he grew up watching Ben Roethlisberger play for the Steelers, and he always had one question: Why can’t defenders tackle him?

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Sunday, he may get his chance to do it. Roethlisberger has a reputation for being among the toughest and strongest quarterbacks in the NFL, and he’ll often make plays with defenders draped on him.

“I gotta bring it all,” Collins said of getting an opportunity to tackle him. “He definitely has to feel all of your weight to bring him down. He’s a tough pickle.”

The Giants have had 14 sacks in their past three games, so they are improving in that statistic. Getting one or more against Roethlisberger, though, will take a lot more effort in not only getting there but at the point of contact.

“He’s a big guy and you really have to tackle him,” said defensive end Olivier Vernon, who had a sack against him while with the Dolphins. “You really have to grab ahold of him and don’t let go. What helps with that is when you have the rest of your teammates coming in and running to the ball. If I don’t make a play, or someone else doesn’t make a play, everyone else will clean them up.”


Victor Cruz has one reception in each of the last three games he’s played for 48, 46 and 37 yards. Cruz is the first Giants player with three consecutive catches of at least 37 yards since Lionel Manuel in 1984.


5: Seasons since a rookie NFL head coach won seven consecutive games (Jim Harbaugh had eight with the 49ers in 2011). Ben McAdoo and Dolphins coach Adam Gase both have a chance to win a seventh straight Sunday.

4: Number of players who have scored 10 receiving touchdowns in each of their first three NFL seasons: Rob Gronkowski, John Jefferson, Randy Moss and Bob Hayes. Odell Beckham Jr. needs two more TDs in the next five games to join that group.

3: QBs who have thrown for at least 3,000 yards in at least 12 straight seasons: Brett Favre (18), Peyton Manning (13) and Drew Brees (13). With 98 more yards this season, Eli Manning would become the fourth.


No matter what happens Sunday or next week, the Cowboys will leave MetLife Stadium on Dec. 11 in first place in the NFC East with three weeks to play. That’s a benefit of their 11 straight wins, including one over the Vikings on Thursday night.

But the only team to beat the Cowboys this season still believes it has a chance to top them in the division standings by the end of the regular season. Rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard said it is “without a doubt” the main objective of the Giants to win the NFC East title.

The Giants have won six straight but have not gained any ground on first place during that time. Is that frustrating?

“No,” Shepard said. “We’re not too focused on what [Dallas] is doing. To be honest, we’re not looking at them at all. We’re focused on what we have going on over here. We have something special, too. It’ll be crazy to see how it all plays out.”