The Monsters of the Midway are back in Chicago as Bears fans can once again point to their defense and get a little cocky. The Chicago D ranks 1st in interceptions, forced fumbles, and defensive TDs.
The addition of LB Khalil Mack has given the group a spark they have been missing in recent years, and the attention he demands from blockers allows the rest of the D to shine. Rookie MLB Roquan Smith leads the team in tackles with 81 and has added 4 sacks of his own. CB Kyle Fuller is 2nd in the NFL in picks.
But whether it’s the road venue, a troubling injury at QB, or the recent competitive play of the Big Blue, NFL odds-makers are not ready to make the Bears touchdown-favorites against the New York Giants this Sunday.
Who: Chicago Bears at New York Giants
When: Sunday, December 2, 1:00 PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Lines: Bears (-3.5) at Giants (+3.5) / O/U Total: (45)
While the defense is exciting, the offense has been another true revelation for Chicago this season. Head Coach Matt Nagy has brought innovation and flair that was severely lacking during the forgettable John Fox era.
QB Mitch Trubisky has been outstanding as a dual-threat, other than a few puzzling decisions which can be forgiven for a 2nd year pro who didn’t gain much seasoning in the pedestrian offense the team ran in 2017.
Unfortunately for Nagy and the Bears, Trubisky missed last week’s game against the Lions and is listed as doubtful for this weekend as well. Chase Daniel, a career backup who has experience with Nagy, filled in admirably. Daniel started a bit rough but finished with a solid stat line, throwing for 230 yards and 2 TDs with no picks.
More on the Bears’ prospects if Trubisky can’t play this weekend from the Chicago Sun Times:
It’s on Trubisky to be honest with everyone involved. But even if he does feel better this week, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Bears rest him against the Giants. “Sometimes protecting the player from the player is really what you run into,” Nagy said.
Quarterback Chase Daniel wouldn’t be the first backup to follow a strong game with a poor one. It happens often. But the circumstances surrounding Daniel’s first start since 2014 leave room for improvement. If Daniel were to start against the Giants, he wouldn’t be coming off a short week in which he had only two walkthrough practices to prepare for a Thanksgiving Day game against a division rival on the road. Instead, Daniel would start after having more time to connect with the Bears’ starting receivers and tight ends during a typical practice week. Nagy also has more time to game-plan with Daniel’s input.“I’ll go back to that’s why we brought him in, for these type of situations, where you feel comfortable knowing that if you get into a situation where he’s got to play, you’re able to keep playing the way you play,” Nagy said.
Meanwhile, Giants fans have not had much to cheer about this season except for their other-worldly rookie tailback Saquon Barkley. The Penn State product and 2nd overall pick in the 2018 draft was highly touted out of college and has not disappointed. Barkley has run for 829 yards and 8 TDs which puts him at 4th and 5th in the NFL respectively. He also has 541 receiving yards and 4 receiving TDs.
But QB Eli Manning has struggled to manufacture an above-average offense again this year. He ranks 10th in the league in passing yards, but many attempts have been racked-up when the team is down. Manning’s favorite target, Odell Beckham Jr., is currently 9th in the league with 1,017 receiving yards. There still isn’t a big push from the OL or a well-rounded running game apart from the sterling rookie.
The Big Blue defense is coming off of another lackluster 2nd half performance against a hated rival last week, falling to the struggling Philadelphia Eagles after leading during the contest. The unit ranks 25th in the NFL in points allowed per game and 26th in rushing yards allowed. Worst of all, the pass rush is putrid.
Pat Shurmur’s group does have 10 INTs in 2018, and LB Alec Ogletree has been a bright spot, posting 68 tackles, a sack, and a couple of picks.
But the stark reality is that the New York Football Giants are 3-8 this season, and with the Bears, Redskins, Titans, Colts, and Cowboys left on their schedule, the G-Men are likely in line for another top draft pick in 2019.
I’m not surprised that the spread is tightening with Trubisky unlikely to start, but I’m surprised at the relatively-tight number it is coming down from. Chicago proved on Thanksgiving that it can beat an average NFL team on the road with Daniel at the helm.
Take the Bears to cover and win this Sunday.