Here it is folks… the NY Giants have a series of tough challenges to face tonight. Their charge is to beat the Bears, in Chicago, off a short week of preparation, and get their first win of the season. And these challenges frankly are daunting for an 0-5 NY Giants team who haven’t yet put together 4 quarters of decent football. Fact based observations – no spin necessary.
So what is going to work in the Giants favor tonight as they get ready for the Bears under the lights? The Giants actually have a better shot than you might think. Let’s break it down:
1. The Bears Defense Isn’t Good. It’s true, PFF has the Bears ranked at 6th worst defense in the league. Hard to imagine based on the history and pride of the Bears defensive persona, but it’s true. Other than Julius Peppers and Tim Jennings – the Bears defense has disappointed. Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs haven’t played consistently well, and strong safety Major Wright has been downright awful. They obviously miss Brian Urlacher. The Giants defense has been totally inconsistent, not because of lack of talent — but because the Giants offense isn’t staying on the field. Advantage Giants.
2. The Bears receivers are both top 10 WRs. The Bears’ receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have had great seasons so far. Prince Amukamara and Trumaine McBride need to have the best games of their lives this week. On the flip side, other than Victor Cruz, the Giants receivers have underwhelmed. The Giants can’t get a first down sometimes, and we know the first and second options are Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. No first downs for an offense will kill the defense as we noted above. Look for the Giants to exploit the middle of the field just as they did last week against Philadelphia, and then take some shots downfield with Go routes once they’ve established the slant. Still, Advantage Bears.
3. The Giants stop the run better than the Bears. The Giants are actually ranked better in the middle of the pack on defense at #16… and the reason is mostly because of their success at stopping the run this season. We know that was a huge point of focus this past offseason, and it worked in regard to the D Line. Now, IF Jon Beason, Spencer Paysinger, and Terrell Thomas can sniff out Matt Forte’s carries and get to the ball — the Giants can shut down the Bears run game. But still, it is Matt Forte. Chicago by contrast has been pretty soft against the run. I don’t know that Brandon Jacobs starting will really exploit the weaknesses along the edge of the Bears line but this perception that the Bears will shut down the run isn’t the reality. Advantage Matt Forte and the Bears.
4. Both teams’ offensive lines are suspect. Jordan Mills and Jermon Bushrod for the Bears have not played well. The Giants can get pressure off the edges and get to Jay Cutler. JPP and Justin Tuck can have a day if they choose to. Will Beatty has to pull his season out of the gutter and deliver another decent performance like he did last game. Advantage Giants.
5. Special Teams is a weakness for both teams. Giants and Bears are 3 and 5 from the bottom respectively. This one is likely a total wash.
6. Eli Manning vs Jay Cutler. By almost every measure Jay Cutler has out performed Eli. Advantage Bears.
So based on our little break down, the Bears win this matchup particularly on offense, the Giants can only hope to contain them at home. What the Giants can do is keep them off the field, get into a shootout like we saw the beginnings of last week against Philly, and Eli needs to out shoot the gunslinger. He’s done it before, he can do it again.