The New York Giants opened their season last Monday with a frustrating loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers defense, which may be the best in the NFL, proved to be a mismatch for New York’s young offense. Their own offense, helmed by the returning Ben Roethlisberger, found it’s rhythm half way through the game and started to pick apart New York’s shaky secondary.
The Giants’ Week 2 matchup against the Chicago Bears, however, is a good opportunity for a bounce-back. The Bears’ defense is solid, but not what it was a couple years ago (they should’ve surrendered 30 points to the Lions last Sunday). Their offense is mediocre at best (they ranked 25th in offensive DVOA last year according to Football Outsiders), with a quarterback in Mitch Trubisky the Giants can force into a turnover or two. Chicago is a decent team, but no better than that. New York should be able to take the lessons learned from the Pittsburgh game and show marked improvement. Quite frankly, if the Giants can’t beat the Bears, it’ll be hard to find too many games on their schedule they can win.
Here’s an overview of everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s game, followed by a prediction for the final score.
Where and When
Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST/10:00 a.m. PST
Most Concerning Matchup: EDGE Khalil Mack vs. RT Cameron Fleming
Fleming makes the Giants’ most concerning matchup for the second straight week. This isn’t entirely an indictment on him (although it is a little bit). It just so happens he’s tasked to face yet another elite edge rusher. Mack has all the burst and quickness of T.J. Watt from last week, but with greater raw power. Blocking him is a tall task for any tackle, let alone a career backup like Fleming. New York gave Fleming help against Pittsburgh in the way of heavy personnel (two and three tight end sets) to keep Watt from pinning his ears back. They may have to do more of the same this week to contain Mack’s pass rush. Otherwise, Mack against Fleming is the type of mismatch that can ruin the Giants’ offensive gameplan.
Latest Giants News
Most Promising Matchup: WR Sterling Shepard vs. CB Jaylon Johnson
The Bears are counting on Johnson to start in his rookie season. He received very positive reviews in his NFL debut against the Detroit Lions, earning a 75.6 grade from Pro Football Focus. But as Giants’ fans know, first-year corners are expected to struggle. If there’s a Big Blue receiver that can take advantage of a rookie, it’s Shepard. He’s a sharp, nuanced, professional route runner who uses quickness and craft to create space for himself. Darius Slayton, emerging as New York’s number-one wideout, will likely draw Chicago’s top cover man Kyle Fuller. That leaves Johnson on Shepard. The veteran has a few tricks of the trade the rookie may not have seen before.
Keys to Victory
Let Daniel Jones cook. In the opener, the Steelers keyed on stopping the run and held the Giants to a paltry 29 yards rushing. It became clear that New York doesn’t yet have the offensive line to effectively run the ball when the defense is playing run first. All those failed rushing attempts put Jones in plenty of difficult must-pass situations, and he fared very well. Jones went 10 of 12 for 91 yards and a touchdown on third downs, proving he can still succeed throwing the ball when the defense is expecting pass. The Giants may be better served, especially with Tate returning, to go pass-heavy early in the game. Hopefully this will open more room for Saquon Barkley to break off a couple of his trademark explosive carries.
On defense, coordinator Patrick Graham needs to get creative to force Trubisky into making mistakes. Against the Steelers, Graham showed his penchant for exotic third-down packages. Pressuring Trubisky into turnovers with a few corner blitzes could mean the difference between winning and losing.
Final Score Prediction: Giants 23 – Bears 21
We have two young quarterbacks known for being loose with the football facing off in mid-September after having had no preseason. This has all the makings of a sloppy, low-scoring game. Expect a couple turnovers on either side, and maybe a few big plays too. An extra bold prediction: Chicago will lose on a missed field goal in the fourth quarter.