Can the New York Giants upset the Chicago Bears on Sunday at MetLife Stadium? Here are five things to watch and consider as they try.
Can the Giants deal with Khalil?
While playing for the Oakland Raiders a year ago, Khalil Mack helped wreck a game the Giants lost by sacking quarterback Geno Smith, forcing a fumble and recovering it after the Giants had reached the Oakland 4-yard line.
A five-year veteran, two-time All-Pro and one-time Defensive Player of the Year, Mack has wrecked a lot of games for a lot of teams over the years.
Can the Giants keep him from wrecking Sunday’s?
Mack has eight sacks and a league-leading five forced fumbles already this year. No matter what the Giants try to do against him, he is almost certain to make some plays against them. Can the Giants prevent him from making game-changing ones? Can they get Mack and the rest of the Bears blocked often enough to make a few game-changing plays of their own?
Another fast start?
The Giants got off to a 24-7 lead against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two weeks ago and a 19-3 lead last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. A fast start against the Bears would be a good idea.
First, the Giants are 3-8 and coming off a disappointing loss to the Eagles that almost certainly ended their dreams of a miraculous run to the playoffs. The Bears are 8-3, riding a five-game winning streak. Get down by a couple of scores early to a team better than they are, and it’s fair to wonder how much fight the Giants will display.
Second, as good as the Chicago defense is being behind is not a good idea. The Bears are seventh in the league with 34 sacks. They lead the league in interceptions (20) and total takeaways (29). Get behind by a couple of scores early, put themselves in a position where handing the ball to Saquon Barkley really isn’t a consistent option, the Bears will tee off on Eli Manning. That won’t end well for the Giants.
Too many? Too few? Not at the right time? Too many runs? Not enough runs? Too many receptions? Not enough receptions?
Saquon Barkley’s touches are a topic of debate every single week, so it likely will be again this Sunday.
Barkley, incidentally, seems to be the only one not questioning his usage.
Keeping up with Tarik Cohen
Don’t know much about Cohen? Well, maybe you should study up. Hopefully, the Giants have been.
Cohen, a 5-foot-6, 181-pound speedster drafted by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, is basically the Bears version of Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Cohen leads the NFL in punt returns (26) and punt return yards (322), while averaging 12.4 yards per return. He has run for 285 yards on 66 carries (4.3 yards per carry) and has caught 47 passes for 503 yards and four scores. Cohen has 1,132 all-purpose yards.
The Chicago offense might not be stocked with game-breaking weapons, but Cohen is one.
Can the Giants play competent defense?
The Giants gave up 510 yards and 35 points against the Buccaneers, nearly coughing up a 17-point second-half lead. The defense gave up a pair of long fourth-quarter scoring drive to Philadelphia during last week’s collapse.
Since trading away Damon Harrison the Giants are giving up 146 yards per game vs. the run. With ‘Snacks,’ they were giving up 113.8. Using Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Sack Rate stat the Giants have the league’s worst pass rush.
The Giants are in the league’s bottom half, often close to the bottom, in most defensive statistical categories.
They only have a couple of play makers on defense, and for the most part those players haven’t made enough plays. As much as we have focused on Eli Manning and the Giants’ offensive line this is a defense badly in need of an offseason talent infusion.