Brandon Jacobs is not happy about the prospects for the Giants' running game against the Bears in Week 6.
However, don’t be misled. We are focusing on bold predictions for Big Blue in this game, not insane ones.
While the Giants will do some unconventionally good things in their Week 6 matchup, the cumulative effect won’t be enough to secure their first win of the 2013 season.
These predictions, though, should at least make you go "hmmm" or possibly say, “he’s crazy.” And the really bold part is that all of them don’t favor New York.
How can a 0-5 team do something bad and it still is considered unconventional, you ask? Find out in the following slides, ordered from least bold to most.
Four of the Giants’ five losses this year have been by double digits, and their average margin of defeat is a whopping 20 points.
How can a team that has routinely been blown out in 2013 expect to play a relatively close game, on the road, against a 3-2 Bears team?
Because Chicago has been a pretty welcoming host so far this season.
The Bears have won two of their three home games, but both victories were close and required some late game heroics. In Week 1, they trailed the Cincinnati Bengals 21-10 late in the third quarter before scoring 14 unanswered points to win, 24-21. The following week, they needed a touchdown catch from former Giant tight end Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds left to narrowly defeat the Minnesota Vikings, 31-30.
The Giants will lose this game, but for the first time since opening night, it will be by fewer than 10 points. Maybe they’ll even have a chance to win late in the fourth quarter.
That may just feel like a victory to Giants fans the way this season has unfolded.
Picking a team, even one as inept as Big Blue, to not get blown out against a slightly above-average team is not overly bold.
It is modestly more daring, though, to say a rushing attack won’t muster 45 yards.
The Giants are the worst running team in the NFL, but they are still averaging 56.8 yards per game, well more than the threshold they’ll fail to crack in Week 6. They’ve run for at least 50 yards in all games this season but for the Denver Broncos loss, when they managed only 23 yards on 19 carries.
A bad ground game will be even worse, however, due to the absence of David Wilson. The second-year running back may miss the remainder of the season with a neck injury, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Without Wilson, New York will rely on the uninspiring trio of an over-the-hill Brandon Jacobs, an overmatched Da’Rel Scott and rookie Michael Cox, who has yet to even register an NFL carry.
Also hurting the Giants chances of eclipsing 45 yards on the ground is the Bears defense. It is formidable against the run, allowing just 3.7 yards per carry, and has already held two teams, the Bengals and New Orleans Saints, to under 70 yards rushing in a game this season.
When you take all of this evidence and then factor in that, according to TeamRankings.com, the Giants have passed the ball on an NFL-high 71.84 percent of their offensive plays, rushing for 45 yards in this game seems a lot harder for New York than it should be for a professional football team.
The Giants have trailed for a majority of the 300 minutes they have played this season. This trend will likely continue against the Bears, so New York will have to air it out.
Something they do fairly well and with regularity.
Eli Manning may have an unsightly 12 interceptions, but he’s also averaging 296 yards passing per game and posted a 400-yard performance Week 1 against the Cowboys.
The Bears are a good opponent to duplicate this feat against, since they have already surrendered a 400-yard passing effort this season to Manning’s 2004 draft buddy, Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers signal-caller threw for 406 yards in a loss to Chicago in Week 3.
Also, the Bears have only eight sacks in five games and are allowing 8.3 yards per pass attempt. These numbers suggest that New York’s shaky offensive line can protect Manning long enough for the Giants' vertical passing attack to have success.
While 400 yards passing for Big Blue seems doable in this game, it is still a bolder prediction than rushing for fewer than 45 yards. Manning is averaging over 100 yards fewer than his predicted passing total, and the Bears are surrendering 278 yards through the air per game this season.
If this prediction comes true, it will be an especially good performance for the Giants quarterback and a particularly bad showing by the Bears' pass rush and secondary.
The Giants are allowing 126 rushing yards per game. Chicago figures to have a lead for most of the second half, which means they’ll probably focus on the run to try to burn the clock.
For starters, he’s only eclipsed this total in three of five games this season. Also, the Giants have been surprisingly stout against two of the NFL’s best running backs in back-to-back weeks.
Against Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy the last two games, Big Blue allowed 111 yards combined on 2.9 yards per carry.
If New York can slow down those two beasts, they can certainly keep Matt Forte, who is clearly a level below Charles and McCoy, grounded—pun intended.
In a slideshow of bold predictions, this is the boldest. Devin Hester is averaging 31.4 yards per kickoff return this season, and I am saying that he won’t manage to bring out one kickoff for at least 21 yards Thursday night.
The reason why, is that he may not have many chances, if any, against a kicker in Josh Brown who’s been so proficient in getting touchbacks this season. Brown has managed a touchback on 73.68 percent of his kickoffs this season, according to TeamRankings.com. He has been even better in his last three games, with an 85.71 percent rate.
Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, he didn’t allow a return on any of his four kickoffs.
This brings up another interesting point. Since the Giants are averaging only 16.4 points per game, they don’t kickoff much. When you combine this with Brown’s touchback talent, it is not surprising that only three Big Blue kickoffs this season have actually been returned.
In this very small sample size, the coverage team has been solid, allowing only 18.7 yards per return.
With relatively warm weather and little wind expected in Chicago Thursday night, the Bears will be lucky to get one return off a Brown kickoff. I’ll take my chances that if they do, New York's return coverage will stop Hester short of the 20-yard line.
All stats, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.