Can the New York Giants, seemingly improving on defense each week, take advantage of a Chicago Bears’ offense playing a quarterback they aren’t thrilled with and missing their best play-makers at wide receiver? Let’s take a look.
By the numbers
Points per game: 15.7 (31st)
Yards per game: 347.3 (16th)
Passing yards per game: 247.9 (19th)
Rushing yards per game: 99.4 (21st)
Points per game: 20.4 (11th)
Yards per game: 359.3 (16th)
Passing yards per game: 267.2 (22nd)
Rushing yards per game: 92.1 (7th)
There really aren’t many individual matchups to focus on this week. Instead, let’s break this down generically.
The Passing Game
Jay Cutler is the Bears’ quarterback, whether they like or not. Apparently, many in the Bears locker room don’t like that at all. Espeially after Cutler had a four-turnover, 182-yard (50 on a Hail Mary) passing effort in last week’s 36-10 Chicago loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With Brian Hoyer out with a broken arm, the only other option for the Bears is Matt Barkley. Which means they don’t really have another option.
The Bears will also be short on receiving options this Sunday. Their best wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery, will begin serving a four-game suspension this week for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy. The team’s 2015 first-round pick, who spent all of his rookie season on IR with a shin injury, had 19 receptions in four games before being injured.
Veteran tight end Zach Miller (a team-high 44 receptions), veteran wide receiver Eddie Royal (30 catches) and second-year man Cameron Meredith (29 receptions) will be Cutler’s primary targets.
“A Jay Cutler-led offense, you always have to be ready for explosive plays. We have a challenge ahead of us there,” said Giants coach Ben McAdoo. “They have plenty of talented playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Jay's always dangerous, going back to my years in Green Bay. He can really spin it, he can make every throw and we have to be ready for it.”
For the Giants, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played only 14 snaps Monday against Cincinnati, with the explanation being that he was experiencing stiffness in his back. Eli Apple played every snap on Monday, and both Coty Sensabaugh and Trevin Wade saw time in the slot in DRC’s absence. We will have to wait and see how that plays out against Chicago.
As always, much of the story will be whether or not the Giants can pressure Cutler. The Giants remain 30th in the league in sacks with 14, 23rd in the league with an Adjusted Sack Rate of 5.1 percent. Jason Pierre-Paul is fourth in the league in hurries with 20, and Olivier Vernon tied for fifth with 19.
The Running Game
The Giants have high hopes for rookie running back Paul Perkins. The Bears are already getting tremendous production from their own fifth-round pick, Jordan Howard. Howard has 605 yards on 114 carries, an average of 5.3 yards per carry. The Giants took Perkins (30 carries, 102 yards) one pick before the Bears chose Howard.
Howard has four 100-yard rushing games this season, including each of the Bears’ last two games. The Giants have been stout against the run, sixth in the league surrendering only 3.6 yards per attempt.