Thursday Night Football kicks off Week 6 of the regular season with the New York Giants heading north to Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears. As ever, there are a number of varying factors and analytic ways in which to approach the game, although whichever way you look at it, things do not bode well from a Giants perspective.
For years, Chicago relied on the all-purpose ability of Matt Forte, who regularly led the team in both rush attempts and receptions. The acquisition of Brandon Marshall was arguably the best free-agent signing of 2012; upon moving from the Miami Dolphins, Marshall gave the Bears a reliable passing option and their first 1000-plus yard receiver since 2002.
The Bears also drafted rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery in 2012, though he went largely unnoticed in his debut season in the shadow of Marshall. That said, he is making a big noise in his sophomore season. Under new leadership, the Bears are becoming a pass-first offense with Jeffrey currently eighth overall in receiving yards, having registered three fewer receptions than Marshall.
Without a touchdown through the first three weeks of the season, Jeffrey has come to the party in the past fortnight with two huge outings: 107 yards and touchdown against Detroit Lions in Week 4 before a monster 218-yard, one-touchdown outing in Week 5 vs. the New Orleans Saints.
With Jeffery now a legitimate no. 2 receiving option and prospectively more to come from Marshall, Jay Cutler must feel spoiled for choice for the first time as quarterback for the Bears. With not one but two wide receivers to turn to as well as Matt Forte, there is real potential in the Bears offense.
It would be naive to overlook Martellus Bennett either, especially in relation to the Bears’ Week 6 opposition. After finishing second in receptions for the Giants last season, the tight end was picked up by Chicago in free agency and is currently tied for first in touchdown receptions, becoming another reliable weapon in Cutler’s armory.
The Bears’ aerial offense vs. the Giants’ defense as a whole provides one of the biggest mismatches of Week 6, and things could get very messy on Thursday evening.
The Bears currently rank 12th in passing offense, while the Giants are ranked 22nd against the pass so far in 2013. The Giants’ woes have been well-documented this season, and they are currently standing at 0-5 having given up more points than any other team in the NFL while the Bears have scored a fourth-best 29 points per game so far. Their 17 total touchdowns (10 rec, four rush, three def) put them at third-best in the league thus far.
Injuries have not helped the Giants’ defense, although the secondary in particular has looked beyond help all season long. They will be without their two most experienced corners after Corey Webster was ruled out with a groin injury and Aaron R0ss was moved to injured reserve prior to Week 5.
The onus is now on former Bears player Trumaine McBride and Prince Amukamara, both of whom went AWOL last week against Nick Foles and DeSean Jackson in what was a humbling fifth defeat on the spin.
As quickly as the Bears’ offensive options are increasing, the Giants’ defense is deteriorating. What the Giants have not been able to address in their secondary through five weeks this season, they have little chance of altering on such a short week in the build-up to their match with the Bears.
The numbers are wholly lopsided in favor of the Bears and Cutler, along with his fantasy football owners, should be salivating at the prospect of running wild in Week 6 against this incredibly penetrable Giants D.