Unlocked: Pro Football Weekly’s Chicago Bears-New York Giants predictions
The PFW Chicago staff predictions for Bears against New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday:
Remember the last time the Bears had a bye, they were coming off their most impressive game in at least six seasons — a 48-10 shellacking of the Bucs — and then took a week off and came back flat and overconfident early in Miami, never quite recovered and fell to an inferior team, 31-28.
Granted, the Bears had just a mini-bye after playing on Thanksgiving Day, but will they have learned from the Miami experience?
The Giants are a bad football team that has played much better the last five weeks, going 2-3 with all three losses by one score — 20-23 at Atlanta, 13-20 at home to Washington and 22-25 at Philadelphia last week after blowing a 19-3 late second-quarter lead.
Eli Manning will be a stationary target for the Bears’ pass rush, though, and OBJ is unhappy again, complaining about first-year Giants coach Pat Shurmur’s game plan last Sunday after snaring just five of nine targets for 85 yards.
Beckham’s battle with Kyle Fuller will be fun, and rookie sensation Saquon Barkley will make some plays for the Giants, but in the end the Bears ‘D’ will be too much for Manning and Co.
Bears 27, Giants 24
The 8-3 Bears hold a 1.5-game lead over the Vikings in the NFC North, and they’ve gotten an extra three days’ rest at the end of a grueling 12-day stretch that included three games against division foes, all of which they won. If ever there was an ideal spot for a letdown, this might be it, but coach Matt Nagy has kept his team hyper-focused on the job at hand all season.
Despite their 3-8 record, the Giants have been competitive in all but two games this season, and they possess star power on offense with WR Odell Beckham and rookie RB Saquon Barkley. But it remains to be seen if coach Pat Shurmur’s team will continue to play hard now that the playoffs are out of the picture. Initial indications are that embattled QB Eli Manning will remain as the starter because he gives the Giants the best chance to win.
However, Manning has been sacked 38 times, more than every NFL quarterback other than the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, and that doesn’t bode well against a Bears defense that is 11th in sack percentage. The Bears are also No. 1 in interception percentage, but Manning has thrown just seven picks.
Bears 24, Giants 19
With Eli Manning playing better and boasting a dynamite trio of playmakers, and Pat Shurmur familiar with Vic Fangio’s ‘D’ and likely to use the quick game that has subdued the Bears’ ferocious front before, I expect this game to be close throughout.
With Chase Daniel again at the controls, the Bears could have issues with a strong defensive front and more aggressive scheme than Daniel saw in Detroit, where Trubisky’s superior mobility was missed.
But the Bears now know how to put away inferior opponents, which the Giants certainly are, and again will smartly use their wealth of weapons to counter however Big Blue elects to defend them.
Even with the ball coming out fast, the Bears’ pass rush and penchant for big plays against an immobile and mistake-prone Manning and his leaky O-line should be a winning recipe for Chicago. Khalil Mack was shutout in the sack department Thursday, and a matchup with turnstile Nate Solder ensures that won’t repeat itself. A late pick, this time affected by Mack, propels the Bears again.
Bears 24, Giants 20
Why the odd score? Well, this could be an odd game for all we know now. It’s still not crystal clear whether Mitch Trubisky will be cleared for action with his banged-up shoulder, so it could be Chase Daniel again. Plus, with Matt Nagy’s penchant for going for two-point conversions early in games lately, that perhaps could make the score a little weird. (There have been six 26-18 games ever, by the way.)
The Bears have done a very nice job against running backs this season, although I am not sure they’ve faced one as dynamic as Saquon Barkley, who has looked very impressive lately, even as the Giants bizarrely took the ball out of his hands up 19-3 after halftime in an eventual loss to Philly last week. Here’s predicting they won’t do that again and that Barkley gives the Bears a little trouble.
But we believe enough in Nagy’s system to believe the Bears can do relatively well offensively no matter which QB plays, and the defense isn’t going to let both Barkley and Odell Beckham beat them consistently. They earn a win here, but like the Thanksgiving game, it might not be a treasured work of art when they’re done with it.
Bears 26, Giants 18