Another tough road test is on the schedule this week as the Bears travel to New York (er...New Jersey) to face the Giants.
It may not seem like a tough game, when the opponent has just three wins, but the Giants have been improving, and winning on the road is always difficult in the NFL.
The Bears have had three straight division games and two nationally televised spotlight games, making this a prime spot for a bit of a “trap” game. Especially with the Rams coming to town on Sunday Night Football the next week.
The Bears have avoided some letdown spots so far this season, but they did lay an egg coming off their bye week in Miami and this is a similar type break for Chicago.
The Giants have been playing better and have plenty of weapons to test to the Bears defense.
New York Giants
SB Nation site: Big Blue View
Game day/time/TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX
Last week: 25-22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles
Bears all-time record against: 33-23-2
Historical match ups: The Bears and Giants have met eight times in the postseason, including six times in the championship game.
Strangely, the Bears and Giants have twice met before on Dec. 2 and lost both times. On Dec. 2, 1962, the Bears lost 26-24. On Dec. 2, 2007, the Bears lost 21-16. Both of those meetings were in Chicago.
Last meeting: A 22-16 Bears loss at MetLife Stadium in Week 11 of 2016. Jay Cutler threw for 252 yards, a touchdown and an interception as Jordan Howard rushed for 77 yards and Zach Miller had 61 yards and a touchdown. Jeremy Langford scored the only other Chicago touchdown while Rashad Jennings, Sterling Shepard and Will Tye scored for New York.
Offense: The Giants come into the game ranked 22nd in points and 20th in yards on offense.
New York has the 12th ranked passing offense and, despite having Saquon Barkley, they rank 29th in rushing yards.
Eli Manning (69.1 comp. pct./3,093 yds./14 TD/7 INT) is having a typical solid but unspectacular season. Catching his passes are Odell Beckham Jr. (74 rec./1,017 yds./5 TD), Barkley (71/581/4), Sterling Shepard (48/610/3) and Evan Engram (23/25/2). Rhett Ellison (19/212/1) also adds some production.
On the ground, it’s all about Barkley (171 att./829 yds./8 TD). No one else on the team has more than 24 carries and no other Giants have scored a rushing touchdown this season.
The key to slowing them down will be to limiting what Barkley (1,410 scrimmage yards, 12 TD) and Beckham (1,036 scrimmage yards, 5 TD) are able to do. Take away their scores and the rest of the Giants offense has combined for five touchdowns.
Defense: The Giants rank 25th in points in allowed and 23rd in yards allowed on defense.
Their pass defense is 18th in yards allowed while their rushing defense is 26th.
They have allowed the second fewest passing touchdowns (15), though but the seventh-most rushing touchdowns (11).
Led by playmaking safety Landon Collins (91 tkl/4 PD/1 FF/4TFL), LB Alec Ogletree (68 tkl/2 INT/4 PD/4 TFL/4 QB hits) and Janoris Jenkins (8 PD/2 INT/1 FF/41 TKL).
The Giants don’t have one dominant pass rusher, as evidenced by their three players tied with the team lead for sacks with two (B.J. Hill, Lorenzo Carter and Mario Edwards) and two tied with 1.5 (Kerry Wynn and Kareem Martin).
Olivier Vernon doesn’t have the sack numbers (one) but he does lead the team in QB hits with eight.
Injury report: The Giants listed seven players on their Wednesday injury report:
Limited: OLB Lorenzo Carter (hip), ILB Tae Davis (ankle), ILB B.J. Goodson (neck), CB Grant Haley (hamstring), CB Curtis Riley (shoulder), DE Kerry Wynn (concussion)
Did not participate: TE Evan Engram (hamstring)
Key match ups: The Bears running game is more or less hopeless at this point, so while that appears to be an advantage on paper, there’s just no way based on what has transpired during the first 11 games to suggest that that will suddenly change.
For the offense, the key match up might be Janoris Jenkins on Allen Robinson, as well as the Giants LBs on the Bears tight ends and Tarik Cohen. The Giants LBs Ogletree and Goodson make some plays and can cover downfield.
Landon Collins will obviously be looking to pick off a back up quarterback and show off against his former Alabama teammate, Eddie Jackson.
On defense, the key match up is Kyle Fuller vs. Odell Beckham. Beckham is one of, if not the, best receivers in the league. Slowing him down is going to be key and not letting him get behind Fuller or Jackson is going to be a key to slowing the Giants attack.
Covering Barkley out of the backfield is going to be key as well. The linebackers, particularly Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith, are going to be tasked to stopping the dynamic rookie before he gets to the second level of the defense.
What to watch for: There are some good individual battles here; Fuller v. Beckham and Barkley v. Smith. Seeing if the Bears pass rush can get to Eli and rattle him in to some turnovers will be big as well.
This is another winnable game and it’s not an ideal time for the team to slow down after or let off the gas a week ahead of the Rams coming to town.
Key stats: According to NFL Matchups on ESPN, the Giants have allowed the 5th most “explosive” (15+ yard rushes and 20+ yard receptions) plays to their opponents in the league.
Also according to NFL Matchups, the Giants have allowed the most 3rd and longs (7+ yards to go) in the league.
Beckham and Barkley have combined for 17 touchdowns. The rest of the Giants have scored just five.
The Beckham and Barkley combo have 2,446 yards of the Giants offensive yards, the rest of the team has just 1,713
The pick: With the back up in again, on the road, this is a tough game to handicap. our staff picks will come out later this week. To see how I picked for Sports Bet Collective click here to see my analysis. (I’m 7-4 for the season).
What will it take for the Bears to win Sunday?