The New York Giants and Chicago Bears have more in common than their dismal respective 4-11 and 5-10 records.
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is done for the year, and Bears QB Justin Fields is questionable to return from an ankle sprain.
Will the Giants’ play be impacted by the reality that if the Bears win, their first-round draft choice that belongs to New York from the Bears’ trade up to draft Justin Fields will become slightly less valuable?
There is also the specter of last season’s Week 2 Bears’ 17-13 win in which Saquon Barkley suffered a ACL tear, putting him out for the season.
And both head coaches Joe Judge and Matt Nagy enter the game on some of the hottest seats in the NFL although our sources indicate Judge is likely to get at least one more season with the Giants.
The Bears are 6-point favorites and the over/under is 37.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Giants OLT Andrew Thomas vs. Bears OLB Robert Quinn, Bears defense vs. Giants QB Mike Glennon
Quinn needs one sack to break Richard Dent’s single season Chicago Bears record of 17 ½ and he’d hope to do it in 16 games as Dent did. All Pro voting is also underway now and while Quinn is a favorite, you never know.
Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas was the fourth-overall pick in 2020. He and Quinn will go head-to-head quite a bit.
Glennon, of course, had a star-crossed season with the Bears, and while Judge has indicated Glennon and Jake Fromm are both likely to get snaps, Bears fans that do show up will be anxious to see the Bears defense take it to Glennon.
COACHING DECISION TO WATCH
Again, will Matt Nagy play the kids ?
While all of the promising youngsters logged playing time in Seattle last Sunday, Nagy took heat for starting Germain Ifedi at right tackle over rookie Larry Borom, and created even more concern when he struggled to explain why the week after.
We have to assume Allen Robinson will reclaim his starting slot, but how many snaps will he take from Dazz Newsome and other untested pass catchers?
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Giants RB Saquon Barkley, TE Evan Engram, WRs Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, DE Leonard Williams , DT Dexter Lawrence
Barkley has been a shadow of his old self since returning from his ACL surgery. Engram is a high-ceiling U or move tight end who’s never reached that ceiling. Toney and Golladay are serious threats but neither has played to their first-round pick and high-priced free agent price tags.
Williams and Lawrence are former first-round picks that anchor the Giants defense up front.
Giants RB Devontae Booker, ILB Benardrick McKinney, CB Adoree Jackson; Bears QBs Nick Foles, Andy Dalton
Booker has actually been the Giants most productive running back as Barkley has struggled to regain his pre-ACL form, and the Giants defense has struggled since quality veteran free agents McKinney and Jackson have gone down with injuries. New York has been unable to fill the gaps.
Assuming Fields can’t go, Dalton will get the start, though Foles probably should.
WILD-CARD PLAYERS WHO COULD SURPRISE
Giants TE Kyle Rudolph, LBs Reggie Ragland, Tae Crowder
Rudolph has been quiet most of the season since a decade with the Vikings but is still capable if Glennon or Fromm needs a security blanket.
Crowder is an unknown but is the Giants’ seventh-round pick last year out of Georgia who leads the team in tackles and big plays, and Ragland is an aging veteran but still capable of flashing at key moments.
THE FINAL WORD
Bears 23, Giants 13
Meaningless matchups like this always favor the home team late in the season. That the Bears defied that last week in Seattle proves they’re still coming to play. Weather forecast is for 4-to-8 inches of snow Saturday night and subfreezing temperatures Sunday. With the far superior ground game, all arrows appear to point to the Bears in this one.