A week after a mistake-filled, ugly road loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Bears now travel to New York to face the Giants.
The Giants have won four straight and are suddenly surging and in second place behind NFC East the leading Dallas Cowboys.
The Bears returned from a surprising and inspired win over the Vikings by taking the extra time of the bye week to prepare for a four-turnover, 283-total offensive yard performance in a 36-10 blowout loss.
The long season for the Bears will continue, however, this team is just up-and-down enough that somehow the prospect of this team going into New York without Alshon Jeffery and Kyle Long and beating the Giants doesn’t seem impossible.
New York Giants
SB Nation site: Big Blue View
Record: 6-3, second in NFC East
Last week: 21-20 Monday Night Football win over the Bengals
Bears all-time record against: 28-19-2 regular season, 5-3 postseason
Historical match ups: The series goes all the way to 1925, yet the two historic franchises have a quarter of the number of meetings as the Bears and Packers do. This likely has to do with division play but even still, seems like they would have played more often. The Bears have lost two championships to the Giants, in 1934 and again in 1956. In both games the Giants employed the use of sneakers to overcome icy field conditions and get superior grip to the Bears.
In 1986, the Bears blanked the Giants in the NFL Divisional playoff game 21-0.
Last meeting: 27-21 Bears win in week six of the 2013 season. The Giants were 0-5 and the Bears 3-2. Tim Jennings picked off Eli Manning twice, returning one for a TD. Brandon Marshall scored two TDs.
Key injuries: Starting guard Justin Pugh missed practice with a knee injury Wednesday while receiver Victor Cruz was limited as he recovers from an ankle injury. The Giants’ rushing TD leader, Orleans Darkwa was limited as well as he battles a leg injury.
Offense: The Giants rank 24th in points and 21st in yards.
The Giants offense has 18 turnovers, the fifth most in the league, by comparison the Bears, even with Jay Cutler’s four turnover game last week, have 13 turnovers, good for 15th most.
The Giants rank 31st in rushing offense, averaging just 74.2 yards per game, 3.4 yards per carry and having just four rushing TDs. They only have three 20+ yard runs and zero 40+ yard runs.
Their leading rusher is Rashad Jennings (79 carries/255 yards/1 TD), followed by Darkwa (30/111/2). Bobby Rainey (16/58/0) and Paul Perkins (30/102/0) also get involved from time to time.
Their passing attack, on the other hand, is dangerous. It ranks ninth in the league (266.9 yards per game). Quarterback Eli Manning has 15 TDs against 10 INTs, showing his typical mistake-prone tendencies.
Manning’s weapons start with Odell Beckham Jr., the enigmatic receiver who can make spectacular catches and takeover games but has been prone to outbursts, penalties and distractions.
Beckham leads the team in receptions (54), yards (773) and touchdowns (6). He’s followed by rookie Sterling Shepard (39/426/4) and Cruz (25/377/1). Tight end Will Tye (27/235/0) is also in the mix.
Defense: The Giants spent a lot of money in the offseason to improve their defensive unit and it’s been money well spent for the most part.
Coming in to Sunday, the Big Blue D ranks 11th in points allowed and 16th in yards allowed.
The Giants are tied for sixth in the league with nine interceptions, led by safety Landon Collins, who has four and also is tied for the team lead in sacks with three.
The other ballhawks in their secondary include Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
While the D has just 14 sacks (ranks 30th) they have ten players who have recorded at least half a sack, showing the diversity of their players and scheme.
Collins has already been mentioned, he’s tied with DE Olivier Vernon with a team-leading three sacks, followed by Jason Pierre-Paul and Damon Harrison with 1.5 each.
The Giants rank 22nd against the pass, allowing eight passing TDs to nine INTs. Opposing QBs hold just a 75.7 rating against them. They rank seventh against the rush, allowing 92.1 yards per game, 3.6 yards per carry and eight TDs.
Key matchups: This is a tough game for Chicago because their strengths and weaknesses don’t match up to Chicago’s in an advantageous way.
The Bears have become one of the better pass-rushing units in the league but the Giants have allowed the third-fewest sacks.
The Bears run the ball well but the Giants have one of the better run-stopping defenses in the league.
Tracy Porter and Harold Jones-Quartey against Beckham is going to be a huge match up for the Bears. They have to contain the WR or risk getting burned early and often. If they can slow him down it would allow the pass rush to do their thing and get Eli to start throwing bad passes.
For the offense, it’s going to be key to stick with the run, even if it isn’t working early. Last week Bad Jay showed up and if he doesn’t have a ground game to rely on the game could get away from the team quickly.
What to watch for: The Bears need to get Zach Miller and Eddie Royal involved early. Without Alshon Jeffery those are the targets Cutler is going to be most comfortable throwing to.
Work some screens in and some of the play action stuff too. Play action works better when the run game is going, but this is a stout defensive unit. Get Jordan Howard going early and throw in Jeremy Langford as a change of pace. Run early and often to perhaps break down the Giants a little bit.
On defense it’s going to be key for the front seven to continue their assault on opposing QBs. Get after Manning, he’s a sitting duck in the pocket. Get him uncomfortable.
For the secondary, don’t let Beckham or Shepard get open too quickly to allow the rushers to get into the backfield.
Key stats: The Giants are 4-1 at home this season.
The Giants are 5-3 when Beckham catches at least two TDs.
The Giants have not allowed a 100-yard rusher against them this season.
What do you thinkt he Bears have to do to pull off the road upset Sunday?