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Week 6 Preview: Chicago Bears vs. New York Giants

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Following a tough 26-18 home loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Chicago Bears will have a quick turnaround this Thursday against the New York Giants.

The Giants, coming off a 36-21 home loss to the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles, are enduring their worst non-strike shortened season since 1976 when they started 0-9.

With both teams largely struggling to gain consistency this season, the intriguing matchup should come with the Bears on defense and the Giants on offense.

Here's how things could shake down:

Bears run defense vs. Giants running game: The Bears received another blow to the interior of their defensive line on Sunday when DT Nate Collins tore his left ACL against the Saints, ending his season.

This was the same injury that all-pro DT Henry Melton suffered in the Week 3 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Stephen Paea, the usual starter at the other DT position, was forced to miss last week's game against New Orleans with a toe injury. With each of their top three defensive tackles either out or fighting nagging injuries, the Bears have serious concerns about their depth at that position going forward.

The Bears have actually fared relatively well against the run thus far this season, ranking 13th overall in the NFL having given up 98.2 yards/game, but how the new parts will hold up remains to be seen.

On the Giants end, things couldn't be much worse for their running game so far this season. They rank 27th in yards per carry at 3.3, 31st in total rushing yards (284) and dead last in rushing yards per game (56.8).

The problem has been largely due to the inexperience on the right side of their offensive line, where they are starting a rookie RT in Justin Pugh and 2nd-year RG in Brandon Mosley.

This could be the week the Giants get their running game going, however, thanks in large part to the brash of injuries the Bears have encountered.

If they do, expect a heavy dose of David Wilson (assuming he is healthy enough to play after leaving last week's loss with a neck injury), Andre Brown, and the newly-reacquired Brandon Jacobs in hopes of giving the Giants a more multi-dimensional look on offense.

Giants passing attack vs. Bears pass defense: For years, the Giants have hung their hats on a physical running game to set up a play-action passing attack led by two-time Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning and his talented group of pass catchers.

The talent at the receiving position (Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle and TE Brandon Myers) is still there. But it has been difficult for Manning to sustain any sort of consistency when the team has fallen behind in many games early, eliminating their ability to run and making their offense one-dimensional.

The results haven't been good, as Manning is enduring the worst start to a season of his career. His 13 interceptions lead the NFL (the next closest number is nine) and his 65.8 passer rating ranks third worst for quarterbacks who have started more than three games.

So what has been the issue? For starters, the offensive line play has been equally bad in trying to protect its starting QB. They have allowed 15 sacks through five games, tied for 5th most in the NFL. Manning has been hit 32 times overall, good for 8th worst in the league.

One thing in the Giants' favor this week is that the Bears have struggled to bring down opposing quarterbacks when needed, ranking 29th in the NFL with eight sacks all season. With the inexperience on the interior and DE Julius Peppers facing constant double teams, guys like Shea McClellin and Corey Wootton need to amp up the pressure and make Manning uncomfortable in the pocket.

In the secondary, the big matchup could be how the Bears try to handle the speed of Cruz, whom the Giants love to lineup in the slot with a receiver outside to draw the cornerback to the outside. This allows Cruz to be matched up against a linebacker or safety in space, an advantage for the Giants should the defense not react quickly enough.

The key is for Bears safeties Major Wright and Chris Conte to get depth and rely on their technique rather than try and outrun him; if they allow Cruz to run down the field without restraint, the Giants could have lots of success in this area of the field.

Billy Grayson is a Yahoo contributor from Chicago and diehard Chicago sports follower. He is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

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