By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: After an opening night lost to a very talented Pittsburgh Steelers team, the New York Giants travel to the windy city to take on the Chicago Bears who won their season opener 27-23 against the Detroit Lions. The Bears needed a fourth quarter offensive explosion of 21 consecutive points to secure the win and look to build on that against the Giants. Overall, the Bears hold a 34-24-2 lifetime record against the Giants, but more recently over the last five meetings the Giants hold a slight edge with 3-2 record. Let’s take a look at my top 5 matchups and see which team will have the edge:
- Fast Start: Both teams were slow starters in their season opener respectfully as both finished the 1st quarter of their game with only 3 points apiece. The Giants need to start strong as the visitors and put the Bears on their heels early. Quarterback Daniel Jones will be facing another tough defense, however; the Bears defense is not as talented as the Steelers, so look for Jones to continue to improve this week and pass for over 300+ yards.
- Redemption: Running Back Saquon Barkley would be the first to tell you that his performance against the Steelers was not a memorable one, so look for him to have revenge on his mind. The Bears defense gave up 138 yards rushing against the Lions with 93 of those coming from Adrian Peterson. Look for Barkley to get more carries/touches this week and possibly gain over 150 total yards (rushing/receiving).
- Execution: The Giants new offensive line had its moments against the Steelers surrendering three sacks and were never able to open any holes in the running game. This week the Bears defense must come prepared and need top performances from their top defenders such as: linebackers Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. The Giants need to counter with better execution in both areas (run blocking/pass protection) and have longer sustainable drives. Rookie left tackle Andrew Tackle performed respectfully in his rookie debut, now the rest of the offensive line needs to follow suit and put their best foot forward.
- Opportunistic: The Giants had a -1 in the takeaway department against the Steelers and one turnover really hurt their chances to steal win on opening night. Daniel Jones showed immense improvement in securing the ball in the pocket and the defense nearly recovered a fumble that could have change the outcome of the game. The Giants need to win this battle against the Bears and it starts with forcing Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky into making poor decisions. Against the Lions, Trubisky was sluggish in the 1st half, but finished strong in the 2nd half with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Perhaps the Lions defense couldn’t sustain enough pressure on Trubisky to keep him at bay. The Giants defensive front 7 needs to continue to play aggressively; which they did against the Steelers and it all starts with stopping the running game. Forcing the Bears to solely rely on Trubisky’s arm could be the difference maker and force Trubisky into making unnecessary decisions.
- Finishers: The Giants were 1 for 3 in the Red Zone as opposed to the Steelers being 3 for 4. That translated in a 10 point deficit; which was the difference in the final outcome. This is an area that the Giants must improve upon if they want to win games in 2020. In the season opener the Giants recovered a fumble inside the 1 yard line early in the 1st quarter and only walked away with 3 points. In the 4th quarter, the Giants embarked on a vintage New York Giants drive; which totaled 19 plays; only to have their final play be an ill-advised pass resulting in an interception in the Red Zone. That’s 11 points they left on the table that could have given them a win.
Final Thoughts: My prediction in the season opener was 27-16 Steelers and the outcome was 26-16; and if not for a missed extra point, I would have predicted the score. One could argue that a broken clock is right at least twice a day, so I’ll take what I can get and chalk it up as a very lucky guess. In regards to predicting this game, both teams will have a chip on their shoulder as the Bears are hosting the Giants in their 1st home game and the Giants have something to prove. The current spread has the Bears favored by 5.5 points with a 68% chance of winning and an over/under at 42. This is a game the Giants can most certainly win, but it’s also a game they could lose if they fail to execute and continue to make some of the same mistakes they made against the Steelers. Giants need to start strong and not squander opportunities early. The Bears can’t fall behind like they did against the Lions and expect another miracle comeback. I believe both defenses will play well, but not dominant and the offense for each team will have their share of missed opportunities. This is a coin flip as it’s that close, however; in the end the Bears find a way to win at home and the Giants find a way to lose on the road.
Final Score: Bears-23/Giants-20