Anyone who thinks the 0-5 New York Giants can’t come into Soldier Field on Thursday night and knock off the 3-2 Bears knows absolutely nothing about football.
There are more than 20 players on this Giants team with Super Bowl rings they won together two seasons ago, and one of those world champions is the quarterback, Eli Manning, who has two rings and also is a two-time Super Bowl MVP. That’s one more of each than his more famous older brother, Peyton.
With a supporting cast that includes All Pros Victor Cruz, Chris Snee, Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Antrel Rolle and a number of other quality starters, Manning and company can beat anybody on any day or night if they show up and play their game.
The good news for Bears fans is the Giants haven’t shown up yet this year.
A huge part of the Giants’ problem is that Manning is having his worst year as a pro, completing only 53.7 percent of his passes and throwing 12 interceptions versus eight touchdowns, and h already has been sacked 15 times.
Another huge problem for Manning and the Giants has been the almost complete lack of a running game. The Giants rank 32nd, dead last in the league, and their No. 1 back, David Wilson, is out with a neck injury.
The running game will be in the hands of Da’Rel Scott and veteran Brandon Jacobs, who was on the street just a couple of weeks ago.
One area where the Giants can hurt the Bears, and where the Bears have been vulnerable, is with an extremely talented stable of receivers. Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are both No. 1 receivers, and Rueben Randle was drafted by the Giants last year out of LSU in the second round a little more than a dozen spots after the Bears picked Alshon Jeffery.
Brandon Myers is the tight end the Giants wanted more than Martellus Bennett, signing him as a free agent from the Raiders and allowing Bennett to move on. Like Wilson, though, Myers is battling an injury, a bum ankle, and might not be available.
The Giants’ offensive line has been awful this year. With the Bears struggling on the defensive line, this could be the key matchup of the game.
Defensively, the Giants are as talented as any team in the league, but have struggled all season to produce.
Tuck, Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka form as feared a pass rush trio as you’ll find in the league, but they’re dead last in sacks.
The Giants were struggling so badly at linebacker with Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers outside and Mark Herzlich in the middle that they just traded for Jon Beason.
Cornerbacks Corey Webster and Prince Amukamara, and safety Rolle were playing in the Super Bowl 18 months ago, but this year they’re 21st against the pass. Webster will be unable to go with a groin injury.
Without Wilson, rookie Michael Cox will return kickoffs, and Randle has been mediocre at best returning punts with a 6.3 average. Josh Brown has been OK placekicking. Punter Steve Weatherford has a gross average of 47.5 yards, but the Giants coverage has been awful, leaving Weatherford with a net average of 34.8. That also has been hurt by his four touchbacks versus just six punts inside the 20.
So, we have a Bears team looking to improve its offensive output, keep Jay Cutler clean, find a few new targets in the passing game, improve their pressure from the front four on defense and get Devin Hester off in the punt return game. Could they find a more tailor-made opponent for their second night game in less than three weeks?
Unless the Giants make a miraculous turnaround, this is a game the Bears should win fairly handily. But take them lightly and wake the sleeping giants, and this team has more than enough talent to really ruin your night.
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.