Hub Arkush: Giants are no gimme for Bears

 
By Hub Arkush
harkush@ProFootballWeekly.com
Updated 12/2/2018 7:20 AM
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  • Giants running back Saquon Barkley, left, is the greatest threat facing the Bears on Sunday.

    Giants running back Saquon Barkley, left, is the greatest threat facing the Bears on Sunday. Associated Press

As the Bears prepare to take on the New York Giants Sunday at MetLife stadium in New Jersey there is a false narrative out there that the Bears are taking a chance resting Mitch Trubisky's injured throwing shoulder to make sure he's ready for the Rams.

I don't know if the Bears are preparing to fall into another trap like they did in Miami or not.

But the story here is not whether or not the Bears are looking past the Giants and my best guess is Trubisky will be ready for the Rams because that's when he'll be ready, not because the Bears think they can beat the Giants without him.

That said the Giants may be 3-8 but six of their eight losses are by one score, three by a field goal or less and the two routs were by the Saints and Eagles.

New York's 'D' should not be all that daunting to the Bears ranking 23rd in total defense, 26th against the run, 18th against the pass, just 31st sacking the quarterback, 29th stopping 3rd down conversions and 25th in points allowed.

Sunday will be a day where the Bears must mount some kind of ground game with their running backs.

Run defense is the softest part of the Giants 'D' and this is a game where you absolutely want to control time of possession because the Giants have several playmakers on the other side of the ball who can change a game on any snap and the best defense against them is an offense that keeps them on the sidelines.

It is unclear why the Giants were comfortable trading "Snacks" Harrison, one of the best run stuffers in the game, but with him gone nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson is the guy the Bears must control along the line of scrimmage and linebackers Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson are their best run down defenders.

New York's secondary should be a strength with Landon Collins the best safety in the league in 2016 but not playing quite to that level the last two seasons, and Janoris Jenkins can be a lockdown cover corner on some Sundays.

If New York is to upset the Bears the Giants offense is likely to provide the heroics.

Overall they are uninspiring ranking 20th in total offense, 29th running the ball, 12th throwing it, 26th protecting the quarterback, 25th on third down and 22nd in points scored.

But over the last three weeks, which include wins over the 49ers and Bucs and a last minute loss to Philadelphia last Sunday, the Giants have averaged 29 points and Eli Manning is playing some of his best quarterback in years.

On the season Manning is completing 69.1 percent of his passes, averaging 254.4 passing yards a game, has thrown 14 TDs and 7 interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 96.1.

His favorite target is of course Odell Beckham, Jr. who continues to display the talent of Clark Kent and maturity of Charlie Brown.

OBJ is 74-1,017, 13.7, 5 TDs on the season and a threat to make a difference every time Manning drops to pass.

But the greatest danger facing the Bears in this one is rookie running back Saquon Barkley.

As a team the Giants may be 29th in rushing but Barkley is the NFL's fourth leading rusher and he's third in total yards from scrimmage with a slash line that reads 171, 829, 4.8, 68 long, 8 TD's and 71-581, 8.2, 57 long, 4 TD's.

Barkley has 10 rushes of 20 yards or more and five 20-plus receptions.

Basically those three are the offense other than number two wideout Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram, and Engram is out with a hamstring injury.

The Giants rate a clear edge over the Bears on special teams with second-year kicker Aldrick Rosas near perfect on the season, 18-18 on PAT's and 23-24 on field goal attempts, his only miss from 52 yards.

Punter Riley Dixon's net average at 41.5 is three yards a punt better than Patrick O'Donnell's, and the Giants are excellent covering kickoff s and punts.

The Bears one advantage is in punt returns with Tarik Cohen.

• Hub Arkush, the executive editor of Pro Football Weekly, can be reached at harkush@profootballweekly.com or on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.

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