Jason Pierre-Paul has already made headlines this season, but for the wrong reasons. Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb may need to go on a retreat after this game, with the entire city of Chicago buying his ticket out of town.
Let's take a look at Friday's preseason game as the Bears try to bounce back this season after a disastrous collapse in 2011-2012.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
When: Friday, August 24 at 8 p.m. ET
Listen: WCBS101FM 101.1 (New York), WBBM (Chicago)
Betting Line: Giants -3, Over/Under 41 (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
What's At Stake?
The third preseason game is generally considered the most important, given that it's usually the last time most of the starters play together for a significant amount of time.
In that sense, this will likely be the final tune-up for starters on both squads. It's particularly the most important game for quarterbacks and their respective offenses.
For the Bears, the focus will be on an offensive line that gave up 49 sacks last season. Gabe Carimi comes back from injury this season at right tackle, but the biggest area of concern is at left tackle, which just so happens to be Jay Cutler's blindside.
Eli Manning will be looking to iron out some things for the Giants in the team's quest for a second straight championship and its third in six years.
Bears (via CBSSports.com)
DB Brandon Hardin - Neck - Questionable
LB Brian Urlacher - Knee - Probable for start of season
Giants (via CBSSports.com)
DL Jason Pierre-Paul - Back - OUT, probable for start of season
RB Ahmad Bradshaw - Hand - Questionable
WR Hakeem Nicks - Foot - Questionable
DL Shaun Rogers - Leg - OUT for season
DL Martin Parker - Back - Questionable for start of season
DL Justin Trattou - Ankle, Heel - Questionable for start of season
DB Terrell Thomas - Knee - Doubtful for start of season
What They're Saying
As everyone in Chicago holds their breath after Brian Urlacher's arthroscopic knee surgery, there is an underlying problem on defense that could also threaten the Bears' season: their safeties getting injured.
Safeties Chris Conte and Brandon Hardin will likely be held out against the Giants due to injury.
As pointed out by the Chicago Sun-Times, head coach Lovie Smith has a history of his safeties getting injured since taking over in Chicago (Mike Brown, Todd Johnson, Kevin Payne, Brandon McGowan, Al Afalava, Major Wright).
That may be due to the fact that the Bears don't tackle in practice (leaving them less prepared in games) or simply because of the physicality of the position.
On the Giants' side of things, yet more distractions have unfurled off the field (you didn't think tranquility could last for long in New York, right?).
Jason Pierre-Paul was filmed dunking second-year cornerback Prince Amukamara in a tub of ice water as teammates crowded around. It has sparked questions whether it was necessary and if it crossed the boundaries of the usual hazing of young NFL players.
Punter Steve Weatherford, who filmed the episode, has since said he regretted releasing the video to the public, per the New York Daily News. He claims it wasn't hazing, but simple horseplay.
Somehow, Osi Umenyiora wasn't the center of distraction, but is instead defending his teammates.
Bears Players to Watch: J'Marcus Webb, LT
J'Marcus Webb has already experienced his fair share of criticism in Chicago based on his poor play thus far.
It's not just that he's been bad, it's that he mans a critical position for the Bears. If they expect to go deep into the playoffs this season, they have to at least be decent at left tackle.
Oh yeah, and Webb just so happens to be lined up against Umenyiora on Friday.
Have fun, J'Marcus.
Giants Player to Watch: David Wilson, RB
With Ahmad Bradshaw out, rookie running back David Wilson has stepped up for the Giants in the preseason, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
The Bears gave up just 4.0 yards per carry last season. On the other hand, Wilson won't have to face Urlacher on Friday.
Key Matchup: Bears Offensive Line vs. Giants Defensive Line
Is there really a question what the key matchup is?
The Bears gave up 49 sacks last season. The offensive line must protect Cutler better, and that starts and ends with tackles J'Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi.
The Giants' defensive line, on other hand, is arguably the best and most talented pass-rushing unit in the league. The Giants—led by Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora—racked up 48 sacks last season.
Who will win on Friday?
Prediction: Giants 30, Bears 17
Maybe J'Marcus Webb shows some improvement in this game, but facing up against the Giants' vaunted pass rush will prove to be too much to handle.
The Giants have averaged 28.5 points per game this preseason, posting 26 points against the New York Jets last game. Manning and Co. will be hard to stop, especially with Urlacher out.
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