Windy City Battle
October 10, 2013
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NEW YORK GIANTS (0-5) at CHICAGO BEARS (3-2)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Chicago -7.5 & 47.5
Opening Line & Total: Bears -7.5 & 46
The winless Giants try to turn their season around when they face the Bears at Soldier Field on Thursday night.
New York's defense has allowed at least 31 points in all five losses (SU and ATS), its NFL-worst ground game has a dreadful 57 rushing YPG and QB Eli Manning has already committed 14 turnovers (12 INT, 2 fumbles lost). The Bears, losers of two straight games, also have turnover problems with QB Jay Cutler (6 INT, 3 fumbles lost) and a defense that has been shaky (28.0 PPG, T-26th in NFL). Neither Manning nor Cutler threw a TD pass when these teams last met in 2010, a Giants 17-3 win where Chicago finished with a pitiful 110 total yards. Before that game, the road team had won seven straight meetings (SU and ATS) in this series. New York is a whopping 16-5 ATS (76%) versus NFC North opponents since 1992, but under head coach Tom Coughlin, the team is only 10-19 ATS (35%) after allowing 400+ total yards in their previous game. Since 1992, the Bears are 16-5 ATS (76%) at home after two straight games with a turnover margin of -1 or worse, but they are just 6-17 ATS (26%) at home after gaining 6+ yards per play in their previous game.
Giants QB Eli Manning is having a miserable 2013 campaign with his lowest passer rating (65.8) and completion rate (54%) since 2005. A lot of these struggles can be attributed to an offensive line that has seen Manning absorb 15 sacks already, compared to the 19 sacks he took in a full season in 2012. A big reason teams have been able to key more on pressuring Manning is New York's lack of a running game. The G-Men have a horrible 3.3 yards per rush and top RB David Wilson (3.3 YPC) may not play in this game because of a neck injury. That would leave RB Brandon Jacobs (2.2 YPC) and newly re-signed RB Da'Rel Scott (3.5 YPC) as the main ball carriers. Whether or not Wilson is out, New York will likely be throwing early and often to try to win this game. Manning already has four receivers who have more than 200 receiving yards for the season -- WRs Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle, and TE Brandon Myers. While Cruz struggled with just 48 receiving yards on 12 targets last week, he is still among the top five wideouts in the league in both targets (55) and receiving yards (473). Nicks bounced back from two subpar weeks to catch nine passes for 142 yards versus Philly, while Randle compiled 96 yards and both touchdown receptions in the loss. The Giants defense has been gashed all season, allowing an NFL-worst 36.4 PPG, which is a product of being on the field for a league-high 34:00. This alarming number isn't all the fault of the inept offense either, as New York opponents have converted 49% of their third downs, the third-worst defensive percentage in the league. The Giants, who have the second-fewest sacks in the league (five), also have several injury concerns as LB Mathias Kiwanuka (ribs) and CBs Aaron Ross (back), Jayron Hosley (hamstring) and Corey Webster (groin) are all questionable to suit up for this contest.
Bears QB Jay Cutler got great protection during his team's 3-0 start, as he hit the deck just three times total, but he has been sacked six times during the two defeats. The Saints made it a point to take away top WR Brandon Marshall, holding him to just four catches on five targets in Week 5. However, that allowed No. 2 WR Alshon Jeffery to explode for 218 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches. But the Bears have been forced to throw much more than they would like in the past two losses, carrying the football just 17.0 times per game. During the 3-0 start to the season, the team averaged 27.7 rushing attempts per game. Top RB Matt Forte has been the workhorse for Chicago with 375 rushing yards on 4.6 YPC and three touchdowns. The Bears defense has been effective in stopping the run (98 rushing YPG, 3.7 YPC allowed), but has been burned through the air. They are surrendering 8.0 yards per pass attempt (4th-most in NFL), which starts with weak pressure on opposing quarterbacks (eight sacks, 3rd-fewest in league). But the one thing that Chicago has done well is to force turnovers, ranking third in the NFL with 14 takeaways this season. This will be a huge key considering how generous Eli Manning has been to giving the ball away to opposing defenses this year. The Bears are pretty healthy, but S Anthony Walters (hamstring) and DTs Nate Collins (knee) and Stephen Paea (toe) and are all listed as questionable for Thursday night.
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