Any Given Thursday: Giants at Bears

Entering the season with aspirations of playing Super Bowl 48 in their very own MetLife Stadium, the winless 0-5 New York Giants are a mess right now. While only trailing two games behind the division leader things have to change drastically, starting this upcoming Thursday night in Chicago against the 3-2 Bears, or they are more likely to attend the game in the stands than actually have a shot at participating. 

Struggling Giants
From entering the season as reigning champions to their worst start since 1987, that’s how the landscape has changed for the Giants in a time span of 13 months. Nothing seems to work in their favor at the moment; allowing a league-worst 36.4 points per game while only scoring 16.4, ranked 30th. 

Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, is ranked fourth among quarterbacks with 203 attempted passes thus far; completing only 53.7 percent of them, eight resulted in a touchdown and 12 in an interception. Operating behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league it’s no surprise he’s already been sacked 15 times. 

Averaging, again, a league-worst 56.8 rushing yards per game there’s no real running threat. To make matters even worse head coach Tom Coughlin broke the news yesterday that starting running back David Wilson is ruled out for Thursday’s game due to a neck injury. This means the backfield will exist out of a combination between veteran Brandon Jacobs, who had 11 carries for 37 yards against Philadelphia last week, and the recently re-signed  Da’Rel Scott.

Their defense is plagued by injuries. Most notable is that 2x Pro Bowler defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who underwent back surgery last June, is playing through a sprained MCL, resulting in only one sack so far.

Any given Thursday
However, there are some things in their favor that could keep the Giants in the game and, although very doubtful, pull off an upset win.

The Bears defense is only a glimpse of the dominating force they were a year ago. With inexperienced interior linemen and defensive end Julius Peppers facing constant double teaming they struggle to bring down opposing quarterbacks, recording only eight sacks all season.

With cornerback Charles Tillman, dealing with groin and knee injuries, possibly sidelined Chicago could lose a key figure in their secondary, opening up more opportunities for New York’s talented core of wide receivers. Both Victor Cruz and the seemingly re-emerged Hakeem Nicks are a constant threat for big-play potential, while youngster Rueben Randle regularly shows he found the trust of his quarterback.

For the last couple of years the NFC East has been a division full of surprises and tight rankings. As mentioned above the Giants are only two wins behind the Eagles and Cowboys for first place. A win against the Bears could give them a new boost of moral and with a lot of games left who knows what could happen? Even though it’s against all odds right now, don’t forget the Redskins went from a 3-6 start to a 10-6 record last year, enough to win the division!

Betting breakdown
Both teams are negative against the spread so far this season; New York being 0-5 and Chicago 1-3-1. Earlier this week the Bears opened as 9.5 point favorites, but most bookies reduced this number to 7.5. Although I’m convinced Chicago will win, I’m not keen on picking them this week. If Manning manages to stay in the game by answering offensively I think there’s a real chance they might not cover the spread.

The wager I like most is betting the over, set at +47. With Brandon Marshall, last week’s record-setting sensation Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett, Jay Cutler has trustworthy targets. Combine this with Matt Forté’s rushing and catching abilities, Manning’s receivers, the fact both quarterbacks are up against a defense allowing a lot of yards through the air resulting in a lot of points, this might lead up to a big score.

My prediction for the game is a 31-24 Bears win over the Giants.

Jochen Bijnens

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