Are Giants just what the doctor ordered for struggling Bears?

  • The Bears are searching for answers in a season that began with such promise coming off an NFC North championship. With five losses in six games and their postseason hopes all but extinguished, the Bears (4-6) will try to start salvaging something when they host the struggling Giants (2-8) on Sunday.

    The Bears are searching for answers in a season that began with such promise coming off an NFC North championship. With five losses in six games and their postseason hopes all but extinguished, the Bears (4-6) will try to start salvaging something when they host the struggling Giants (2-8) on Sunday. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/24/2019 7:53 AM

The New York Giants are a bit of a puzzle right now.

They're seemingly in rebuild mode behind a rookie quarterback in Daniel Jones who came to the NFL six months ago as the sixth overall pick in the draft.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Like the Bears' Mitch Trubisky, there's been some doubt as to whether Jones should have been taken over several other better-known prospects and more proven commodities.

Yet the Giants also made a trade-deadline deal a few weeks ago for defensive end Leonard Williams that cost them third- and fifth-round draft choices -- even though he is a free agent at the end of the season.

At the end of the day, when the schedule first came out, this was supposed to be a breather for the Bears after a brutal stretch that brought them four serious contenders in five weeks.

Though the Giants are not a very good football team right now, the Bears aren't either and there are no easy opponents.

Giants offense vs. Bears defense: Jones flashed early after taking over for Eli Manning and has done some nice things in his seven starts since taking the reins.

Unfortunately for him and the Giants, superstar running back Saquon Barkley has been banged up a good part of the season and his lack of production has made Jones' job that much more difficult, leaving them to struggle offensively. They are 24th in total offense, 23rd rushing, 18th passing, 22nd in both interception and sacks allowed percentage, a respectable 15th on 3rd down and 14th in scoring (20.3 points per game).

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Barkley has returned from the sprained ankle that took him out of the lineup earlier in the season, but banged up a shoulder against the Jets, and his status for the Bears is uncertain.

Tight end Evan Engram is probably Jones' most trusted target, and Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are also reliable options.

If Barkley is limited, Wayne Gallman is next man up.

The Giants offensive line should be better than average but left tackle Nate Solder, center Joe Halapio and right tackle Mike Remmers are all nursing nagging injuries.

Should the Bears defense muster the same type of performance it gave against the Rams Sunday, this should be a favorable matchup, although they are going to have to find more pressure up front or Jones will make plays if given the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

EDGE: Bears

Bears offense vs. Giants defense: The Giants defense has struggled through 11 weeks, ranking 27th in total defense, 26th vs. the run and 25th vs. the pass. They will make some splash plays and are 7th in interception percentage and 11th rushing the quarterback, but they are 21st getting off the field on third down and 27th in points allowed, giving up 28.9 a game.

There is talent up front in Williams, first-round rookie Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson and second-year five-technique B.J. Hill, who is having a breakout season, and if the Bears aren't better up front than they were against the Rams, the offense will struggle again.

Bears fans will remember linebacker Alec Ogletree's pick-6 off Chase Daniel on the second play of the game last year, but he, David Mayo and Lorenzo Carter are just an average LB corps, and the Giants struggle on the back end with corners Janoris Jenkins, first-round rookie Deandre Baker and Grant Haley, and Jabril Peppers and the 35-year-old Antoine Bethea at safety.

In light of the Bears issues at tight end, look for them to be in a lot of three- and even four-wide receiver sets to try and take advantage of the Giants issues in the secondary, where the matchups in particular favor Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen and Taylor Gabriel.

Of course, at the end of the day, how do you give the Bears offense an edge over anyone right now?

EDGE: Even

Special Teams: Overall, this has been a real strength for the Bears -- Tarik Cohen is 2nd in the league at 10.7 yards per punt return and Cordarrelle Patterson is 3rd in NFL at 29.6 yards per kickoff -- but the Giants have been almost as good in the return game and even better than the Bears in coverage.

While Eddy Pineiro is in an awful slump, Aldrick Rosas has been mediocre at best this year.

Patrick O'Donnell is having his best year as a pro with a 42.0-yard net average, 17 punts inside the 20 and just two touchbacks, but Riley Dixon is right there with him at 42.8, 16 and two, respectively.

EDGE: Even

Coaches: This is a tough call. Pat Shurmur was 9-23 in two years at Cleveland and is 7-19 with the Giants, while Matt Nagy is 16-11. This should be a slam-dunk in favor of Nagy, but he is under tremendous pressure right now. Still, Nagy's record is far superior to Shurmur's.

EDGE: Bears

• @Hub_Arkush is the executive editor of Pro Football Weekly.

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