It was only 22 games ago that few had ever even heard of Victor Cruz of the New York Giants. Cruz played for the Massachusetts Minutemen in college, and though he was a great receiver there, he wasn’t really one that figured to play that big of a role in the NFL. The world got to know Cruz when he had a chance to start at receiver with WR Mario Manningham and WR Domenik Hixon out of the fold, and he didn’t disappoint, coming up with two touchdowns in his first start.

Since that point over the course of 22 games, Cruz has come up with 132 receptions, 2,169 yards, and 16 TDs, an average of 6.0 receptions, 98.5 yards, and 0.7 touchdowns per game. To put that in comparison, last year, there was just one receiver that averaged more than that, WR Calvin Johnson, who was good for 105.1 yards per game, and just three receivers, WR Wes Welker, WR Roddy White, and TE Jimmy Graham that had more than 6.0 catches per game.

Cruz was a third receiver for a good chunk of the end of last year when both Manningham and WR Hakeem Nicks were healthy, but now with Manningham gone, it is clear that QB Eli Manning only has eyes for Nicks and Cruz, and the argument could be made that Cruz is the better of the two receivers.

In spite of the fact that Nicks has missed three games this year, Cruz has remained a rock, catching 52 passes for 650 yards and seven scores. The Minuteman leads all NFL receivers in touchdowns with those seven TDs, and only RB Arian Foster has more touchdowns in total than he does.

On Sunday, Cruz will be matched up with a Pittsburgh secondary that has been flat out awesome this year, allowing just 182.6 passing yards per game, the top mark in football. Week 9 show the NY Giants at -3 on the NFL odds boards.