If the 6-3 New York Giants can dispatch the Chicago Bears on Sunday, they will post their first five-game winning streak since 2010 and their best start to a season since they were 9-1 in 2008. Let’s look at five things to watch that could help determine whether or not the Giants get that done.
Can the Giants take care of business?
The Giants are heavily favored on Sunday. They have won four straight, all of which have been close games. The Bears are a mess, rife with injuries and apparent dissension. Odell Beckham Jr. is already talking about Super Bowl 51. All of those things make this a game to be nervous about.
The NFC East is a highly-competitive division, the only one in the NFL with all four teams sporting winning records. Increasingly, it looks like it is going to take double-digit victories to reach the playoffs, even as a wild-card.
The Giants need to win this week and next against the 0-10 Cleveland Browns to put themselves in a solid position entering a brutal five-week season-ending stretch.
See Leonard Floyd rush. Dream about “what if ...?”
You know the story. The Giants were widely expected to select Floyd, the pass-rushing linebacker/defensive end, with the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Then, the Bears traded up in front of the Giants and snatched him with the ninth overall pick.
“You have no idea really what is going to happen in the draft, you really don’t. There is a lot of information out there. Sometimes it can be misinformation. Sometimes it can be factual information,” said Bears coach John Fox. “I just know that was a need that we had and we like the player a lot and you try to maneuver in the draft to get the players that you want and he was a player that we wanted.”
Floyd has five sacks in seven games for Chicago, including 1.5 last week and 4.5 in his last three games. The Giants are happy with the development of first-round pick Eli Apple, but feel free to watch Floyd and dream about how Steve Spagnuolo would use him and the difference he could have made in the Giants’ pass rush.
Making peace with the Duke
Even though coach Ben McAdoo has preached ball security since the day he took the job and has drilled it pretty much daily, the Giants’ offense hasn’t shown much respect for the Duke this season. The Giants have turned the ball over in every game, and their 18 total giveaways is fifth in the league. They are 30th in the NFL in takeaway/giveaway ratio at -8. Bluntly, the Giants are better than the Bears. They are also at home. They almost certainly win the game Sunday, unless they turn it over and give Chicago extra chances.
Was the running game just a mirage?
The Giants have been awful running the ball all season, but Monday the running game showed up when the Giants needed it most as they closed out the Bengals. The Giants ended up with a season-best 122 yards on 27 attempts, 4.5 yards per rush.
Can they do that again, especially with what looks as if it will be a make-shift offensive line?
Contain the Chicago running game
The Bears will be without wide receivers Kevin White (IR) and Alshon Jeffery (suspension). The best weapon they have on offense is probably rookie running back Jordan Howard, who was selected one pick after the Giants took Paul Perkins in the fifth round.
Howard has 605 yards rushing on 114 carries, 5.3 yards per attempt. He is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games, including 153 yards on 26 carries against the Minnesota Vikings, and has four 100-yard games this season.
The Giants are seventh in the league against the run, allowing 92.1 yards per game. If that strength holds up, the Giants should be able to control the Chicago offense.