Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Giants

JJ Stankevitz
NBC Sports Chicago

1. Finally get explosive plays on offense. 

Only four teams have allowed more plays of 20 more yards than the Giants (50) in 2019, though the Bears have played two teams that've given up more: The Raiders (56) and Lions (52). And the Bears managed only two plays of 20 more yards in each of those games. 

The 24 plays of 20-plus yards totaled by the Bears' offense is the second-lowest in the NFL (only ahead of the Dolphins). It's perhaps the best measure of just how deep the rot in this offense goes - explosive plays require good blocking and proper execution from all 11 players on the field, as well as the right play call to counter-act the opposing defense.

So there hasn't been much evidence through 10 games that those explosive plays will come on Sunday, even against a leaky Giants defense. But if the Bears can find a way to generate more than two or three chunk plays, they'll be well on their way to their best offensive game of 2019. 

2. Shut down Saquon Barkley

Barkley has been victimized by an ankle injury and suboptimal offensive line, but it's still jarring to see his numbers over his last five games: 72 carries, 175 yards (2.4 yards per carry). The 2018 No. 2 overall pick had the benefit of resting up on the Giants' off week, so it's possible his ankle will be closer to 100 percent with a 14-day layoff leading up to Sunday's game at Soldier Field. 

The Bears' run defense hasn't been the same without Akiem Hicks, ranking 12th in rush defense DVOA, and this group has had its issues against guys like Josh Jacobs, Latavius Murray and Todd Gurley. Getting out to an early lead would help limit Barkley's impact, but in the absence of that - the Bears' offensive has been horrendous early in games - this front seven will need to make it isn't gouged on the ground. 

Otherwise, it'll allow the Giants' offense to find a rhythm, and will make it hard to ...

3. Score on defense. 

Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones has fumbled 10 times - 10! - over his last four games, with three of those fumbles being returned by the defense for touchdowns. Jones has only thrown two interceptions in that span, but ball security is a serious issue for the 2019 sixth overall pick. 

The Giants will likely do whatever they can to keep Khalil Mack - who says he aims to sack the football, not the quarterback - away from Jones. But Jones' penchant for fumbles should be known by the other 10 Bears players on the field, so if Nick Williams or Roy Robertson-Harris or Leonard Floyd or Roquan Smith get a shot at the Giants' quarterback, they should do so knowing they'll have an opportunity to get the ball out. 

For the Bears' sake, hopefully they practiced scoop-and-score drills this week.

Prediction: Bears 20, Giants 16. 

The Bears have taken care of business against the worst teams they've faced this year - Washington and Detroit - and the 2-8 Giants should be no different on Sunday. But the 4-6 Bears are beyond merely needing to take care of business. This is a team that needs not just a win, but a convincing win, to lessen the bleakness of the final six games of 2019. 

A four-point win over an atrocious Giants team in which the Bears' offense doesn't score more than three touchdowns - which they haven't all year - wouldn't feel like that. But that's been the story of the 2019 Bears so far. 

Why would it change on Sunday? 

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Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Giants originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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