Game Scout: Giants at Bears

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

New York Giants (0-5) at Chicago Bears (3-2)
Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Soldier Field, Chicago - TV: NFL Network
*TV announcers: Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan
*Keys to the game: The Giants' defense is giving Eli Manning little choice but to air it out. With RB David Wilson (neck) hurting and ineffective in 2013, veteran Brandon Jacobs could get more work as the Giants attempt to play ball control and take advantage of the Bears' injury-depleted defensive line. New York hasn't generated much push in front of its running backs, averaging a league-worst 56.8 rushing yards per game. Manning's receivers can win one-on-one matchups, but getting time to connect with deep threat Victor Cruz has been challenging. Manning has been sacked 15 times, and the constant pressure has contributed to a league-high 12 interceptions. The Bears are second in the NFL with 14 takeaways (eight forced fumbles) and have three return TDs in five games. Their own offensive line might be reemerging as an issue with six sacks allowed the past two games. Given that trend, QB Jay Cutler might get light-headed seeing Giant Blue -- he was sacked nine times in the first half of the last meeting in 2010. The Bears are generating consistent points, and the Giants have allowed at least 31 in every game this season, using their own WR combo to spread the ball around. RB Matt Forte is the key to coach Marc Trestman's system. He is an effective receiver and averages 4.6 yards per carry, which has helped preserve Cutler behind a fresh wall of blockers.
*Player spotlight - Bears TE Martellus Bennett: Resurrected as a red-zone threat for Manning in his only season with the Giants in 2012, Bennett cashed in with a four-year, $20 million deal in the offseason. He's exactly the type of threat the Giants are struggling to contain.
*Fast facts: The winless Giants can move within a game of the NFC East lead with a victory coupled with a Redskins win over the Cowboys on Sunday night. ... The Bears have lost four straight to the Giants at Soldier Field.
Offensive line problems unravel the Giants' offense again as Giants defensive coordinator Mel Tucker calls for blitz packages early and often to propel Chicago to 4-2.
*Our pick: Bears 31-20

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