By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears are reeling after a crushing 36-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. Several prognosticators, including this writer, thought that the Bears would pull out a win last week but Chicago seemed to crumble against their opponent. So many factors contributed to the loss. Poor quarterback play, poor offensive play calling and lack of execution on defense hurt the Bears badly.
Is there any way they can right the ship and pull out a win this Sunday?
So, this Sunday, Chicago will be traveling to Met Life Stadium in New Jersey to take on the New York Giants. The Giants are 6-3 right now and are fresh off a win against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. They come in with a lot of talent and some good success. Will they be able to keep it up this success against the Bears?
Or will Chicago pull off another good yet surprisingly executed game like they did against the Vikings? On paper, the Bears appear to be easy to beat but you just never know.
Let’s take a closer look at the upcoming game between the Bears and the Giants this Sunday. Who will win and why? Who should you keep an eye on? Can the Bears win?
The quarterback situation for the Bears was solidified a couple of games ago when Jay Cutler returned from injury. But after a solid performance against the Vikings, he had a very poor outing against the Buccaneers. Will he be able to overcome the issues that plagued him against the Bucs last week (the turnovers) or will he continue to struggle? The problem with Cutler is that you never know which “Jay” will show up. Will it be good Jay that shows up or bad Jay? We will see what happens Sunday.
When looking at the statistics, the Bears are averaging 247.9 yards per game through the air which is 18th in the NFL. They have struggled throwing the ball consistently and aren’t getting big plays down the field. Maybe the offense can turn it around in the passing game this Sunday.
In comparing what the Giants do on defense, they are allowing an average of 267.2 yards per game so the Bears may have some luck passing the ball if they can get it down the field.
Chicago’s hands are going to be tied a little bit with their wide receiving corps Sunday. Their best player, Alshon Jeffery, just started his four-game suspension for using PEDs so the Bears will be without him. Kevin White went on injured reserve a while ago and Eddie Royal is always a game time decision. Cameron Meredith had a highlight reel catch last week but that was just about the only thing good to happen the receiver corps. They may see some success against the Giants but Cutler must get them the ball.
The running game has been very good over the last few games but they are going to run into a buzz saw of sorts when they meet the Giants Sunday. New York is giving up just 92 yards per game which is seventh in the NFL. The Bears will need to get their rushing attack going to help take some of the pressure off Cutler and keep the ball moving. But can they do it against this stout Giant’s rush defense?
Chicago is averaging 99.4 yards a game on the ground which may not seem like much but they have had some big games rushing the football. To lower that average though, they have had some sub-par games rushing. This is going to be tough but rookie Jordan Howard should may just be able to find some running room this Sunday thanks to his natural ability.
What Howard may not be able to do is count on his offensive line to help get those tough yards. Kyle Long is out for the year and Bobby Massie will not play because he didn’t pass the concussion protocol. The Bears have some nice depth and it showed in the Vikings game but are they up to the task against a tough Giants defense? This will be one of the more difficult challenges they will face this season.
Who wins the battle between the Bears offense and the Giant’s defense? You almost have to give it to the Giants.
The Bears defense was put on the spot last week after the offense kept turning the ball over. It’s hard to blame the defense for a lot of the issues they had last week but they did have their bad moments. The defensive line has gotten good pressure as of late but has struggled with health concerns. The linebackers have been lights out all year and are getting even better. The secondary has struggled and is easily the defense’s weakest link.
It would appear as if Eddie Goldman is not going to be in the lineup for the Bears this Sunday. He tweaked the ankle he hurt in Week two again last week and will be out. Mitch Unrein is also “up in the air” for playing. Akeem Hicks has been the star for the line this season and needs to have a big game. Can he help put pressure on Giant’s quarterback Eli Manning, keep him off his mark and disrupt the Giant’s passing game?
If the Bears want to win this game, they need to get to Manning, get him on the ground or force him to make mistakes. They can do that and just need to get the right plays called and execute.
I have been pointing out that the Bear’s linebackers have been just about the best unit on the team and they have proved it time and again. Just about everyone, from starter to backup, is playing well in this unit. Jerrell Freeman has been the star while Danny Trevethan has been quiet but solid. Leonard Floyd is really starting to ramp things up and Pernell McPhee is back talking smack and leading the team.
These guys can’t do it all by themselves but they will have a big hand in helping the defense. When it comes to stopping the run, the Bears rank 11th in the NFL allowing just 98.4 yards per game. Game in and game out, Chicago’s rush defense is tough and has done a great job this year. The linebackers are a big part of that. On average, the Giants are gaining a low 74.2 yard per game on the ground. This means Chicago should be able to easily stop New York’s rushing attack.
In a 3-4 defense, you rely on your outside linebackers to get a good pass rush going. Both McPhee and Floyd can do this and hopefully, after all the chatter that McPhee has been throwing at the Giants this week, he does something productive. It would be huge if the Bears could get to Manning.
Looking at the numbers, the Bears defense is allowing 242.8 yards through the air per game to opponents. That is good for 12th in the league. The Giants are averaging 266.9 yard through the air on average which is good for ninth in the NFL. The Bears will have their work cut out for them in trying to stop the Giants passing attack.
Chicago’s secondary, although talented, has struggled. Tracy Porter, their best player, has had some issues with injuries and has struggled sometimes. Kyle Fuller, their other starter at the cornerback position, never made it to the first game of the year and will be on injured reserve the rest of this season. His spot has been a revolving door and no one has been able to play that well in his absence.
The Bears will have the honor of covering one of the best wide receivers in the league in Odell Beckham Jr. Look for Porter to stay on him but if he switches sides and goes over to get covered by someone like Cre’von Leblanc, there could be (and probably will be) trouble. The Bears must get to Manning and not give him enough to time to throw the ball to Beckham and the other Giants receivers.
Safety play is solid when they are playing against the run but when it comes to pass coverage, they have some issues. Harold Jones-Quartey may be the best of this bunch now as Adrian Amos has taken a step back. HJQ is a ball hawk and a hard hitter but does have some issues in coverage. Amos consistently makes mistakes and has regressed after having a good rookie season. Hopefully he can step it up in the Bears final few games.
There is an interesting storyline on special teams this week. Former Bear’s kicker Robbie Gould, who was signed by the Giants recently, will be kicking against his old team the Bears. Some people are saying there is a little revenge factor going on in this game for Gould but for Chicago, it will be business as usual. Connor Barth has been more reliable recently and will hopefully get some opportunities in this game. Punter Pat O’Donnell has struggled.
Royal will be back again as the punt returner and hopefully he won’t make mistakes like he did last week against Tampa. The kick return teams are solid but unspectacular. They aren’t going to get too many twenty to thirty yard returns in this game or any other game. The Bears will want to work on the return teams next season.
The coaching job done by head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains last week was probably the worst we have seen in the two years Fox has been here. It seemed as if the Bears made many mistakes (which they did) and the coaching staff had no plan to work the team out of the hole dug by those mistakes. It appeared as if Chicago just accepted their fate and folded. That seems to be a growing trend in Chicago this year.
In the meantime, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio continues to coach well but his side of the ball lacks execution. Maybe they can get the ship righted a little bit on defense against the Giants. But with the talent New York has, it’s going to be a tough task.
After last Sunday’s debacle, it’s hard to see Chicago winning this game. New York is on a four-game winning streak which means they have a lot of momentum and they are difficult to beat. They have good talent, solid coaching and great execution. Can the Bears overtake them and earn their third victory of the season?
Chicago may not play as poorly as they did last week but they won’t be able to overcome the New York Giants talent Sunday. The Bears will tack on another loss and head close to a rocky and unsure offseason.
Prediction: New York Giants 24 Chicago 13