Giants vs. Bears: Keys to New York Capturing Its 1st Win of the Season
Big Blue is making history this season, but it's in the wrong part of the record book.
For the first time since 1987, the New York Giants are 0-5 to begin the season and starting to be associated with the 1976 edition of the team, which isn't a good thing. That year, the Giants went 0-9 before finishing up 3-11.
If the Giants want to win on Thursday Night Football, they'll have to overtake a Chicago Bears squad that has been scuffling lately, having lost its past two contests.
Big-name talent on both sides of the ball made the Giants a trendy pick to win the NFC East, but the team is still searching for that elusive first victory as we approach Mid-October.
Let's take a look at how the Giants will finally get into the win column at Soldier Field.
Eli Manning Will Step Up His Game
For Giants fans, there have been way too many camera shots of Manning sulking this year. However, the quarterback has had plenty to be mad about.
Through five games, he's already thrown a league-worst 12 interceptions—three more than Carson Palmer and Matt Schaub in second place—which are just three away from the total of 15 he threw all of last year.
Following last week's 36-21 loss to the Eagles, Giants coach Tom Coughlin had some harsh words for Manning when speaking with Paul Schwartz of the New York Post:
Tom Coughlin has never been more critical of Eli Manning. "There were a couple of those plays that were terrible.'' The truth hurts. #nyg— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) October 6, 2013
But Manning is too good to keep struggling like this and the Bears possess a passing defense that ranks among the bottom of the league, statistically. Chicago ranks 24th in the NFL in passing yards allowed (278 per game) and has registered just eight sacks on the year, better than only the Giants (five) and Steelers (four) in the category.
Last week, Drew Brees completed 29 of 35 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns against the unit.
Brandon Jacobs Must Get Back in Business
Sure, he had a forgettable fumble in last week's deflating loss, but Brandon Jacobs is getting his feet back under him in New York.
With ESPN.com's Dan Graziano reporting that David Wilson is out for Thursday's game after suffering a neck injury and Andre Brown on short-term injured reserve, the team will be leaning heavily on the big-bodied Jacobs this week.
Jacobs is expected to start the game and told Schwartz that he's ready for the increased workload:
Brandon Jacobs was asked if he's ready to handle a full load in the backfield. You can guess his response: http://t.co/tu4VPdZtXZ— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) October 8, 2013
Jacobs spent the first seven years of his career with the Giants, playing key roles in two Super Bowl runs, but Week 5 marked the first time he registered double-digit carries since Week 14 of 2011. Against the Eagles, Jacobs carried the ball 11 times for 37 yards on a Giants team sporting the league's worst rushing attack, averaging a mere 56.8 yards per game.
Jacobs has only been with the team for a month—he signed on Sept. 10—and I suspect he'll continue to settle in with the offense this week and improve on his dismal 2.2 yards per carry this year.
Pass Rush Needs to Return
When you think of the New York Giants in recent years, you think of a menacing pass rush. Guys like Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, and other former teammates like Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.
This year? Not so much.
The Giants have just five sacks as a team this season, which is second-worst in the league and a smaller total than that of five individual players. Nevertheless, Graziano has still been impressed with Pierre-Paul:
One positive for Giants: This is by far the best and most active Jason Pierre-Paul has looked this season.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) October 6, 2013
According to the NFL Network, Tuck has also had success against the Bears in the past:
Justin Tuck 2 career games vs Bears 4.5 sacks (2007-1.5-2010-3) Can Justin Tuck finally breakout this week?— NFLN_Playbook (@NFLN_Playbook) October 9, 2013
The Giants better ramp up their pass rush or it's going to be a long day against Cutler and his talented arsenal that includes receivers Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett.
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