Joniak: Keys To Bears-Giants

November 30, 2018 - 3:16 pm
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Jeff Joniak--

(WBBM Newsradio) The Bears (8-3) travel to face the Giants (3-8) in a road test at MetLife Stadium. Here are my keys to the game.

OFFENSE 

Chase Daniel makes his second start after completing 27 of 37 passes in the Week 12 win over Detroit.  His steady improvement on first down enabled the offense to move the ball and create scoring opportunities.  He will seek to find similar success moving the ball on a Giants defense. 

The Giants have permitted 63 plays that are categorized as “explosive” plays ranking among the worst in the league, while also forcing three-and-outs only 25 percent of the time, one of the five worst teams in the league.  While Daniel and his receivers did not hit on the deep ball regularly last week, a full preparation schedule should improve their timing on routes. Identifying where Giants safety Landon Collins is at all times is key component for the Bears offense. He keys the giants unit and lingers in the box making plays behind the line of scrimmage and gobbling up tackles. He has struggled with tight ends in recent weeks. Ditto linebacker Alec Ogletree in the passing game. 

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New York’s Olivier Vernon is a solid pass rusher, but an even better edge run defender for the Giants.  Getting the run game fired up to balance out the offense and keep drives alive is an area where the Bears are working to improve. Seven of New York’s last eight opponents have hit the century mark, including three teams with at least 150 yards rushing.  In addition, the Giants allow 4.5-yards per rush and have permitted 11 rushing touchdowns.

DEFENSE

Eli Manning has been sacked 38 times this season. The Bears defense has 34 sacks spread around to 15 different players. It feels like an ideal opportunity to unleash some pass rush fury on the two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback. His offensive line is not the primary reason for pressure getting home, some of it is on Manning. 

Bears outside linebackers Kahil Mack and Leonard Floyd create an advantage against Giants right tackle Chad Wheeler, who gave up three sacks in his debut this season against Houston’s J.J. Watt. Floyd only has one sack, but in his last five games, he has been extremely active and better off the snap. He could be ready for a breakout game.  Manning gets the ball to star receiver Odell Beckham and rookie running back Saquon Barkley.  Both players are dangerous playmakers and need to be tackled on first contact. Barkley has scored on runs of 68, 50 and 51 yards. He has 15 touches of 20 yards or more including five for 40  yards or more. 

Getting into the second level, Barkley is a game wrecker.  The Bears must tackle well and deny more of the middle of the field crossing routes that have created some chain moving plays off quick throws.

SPECIAL TEAMS

It’s back outdoors for the start of December and the kicking game changes. There are at times tricky winds at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, and negotiating those winds will be the focus for Bears kicker Cody Parkey. He is back on track after the four missed kicks in Detroit. 

Giants second year kicker Aldrick Rosas is a big 6-foot-3, 221-pound booter from Southern Oregon State. He has made 23-of-24 field goals, while connecting on all 18 of his extra-point attempts.  His only miss came at home against the Eagles in Week 6.  Rain is in the forecast adding another element to the proceedings.  New York’s return game is an area to keep an eye on what with Beckham potentially returning punts and veteran Corey Coleman getting on a roll of late. 

Sound special teams is important again in this matchup. It was Rosas who beat Matt Nagy’s Chiefs last season with a game-winning field goal.

INTANGIBLES

Fresh and fiery after the mini-break, the Bears are refocused for the stretch run. Nagy indicates the week of work was outstanding again.  The team appears to be locked-in, exactly the way he wants it. Coming off the bye in Miami, the Bears did not play right and let one slip away.  Coming off this mini-bye week, they are well aware of the pitfalls and a repeat seems unlikely. There is a lot to play for, and the Bears know it.  That gives the Bears an edge they hope will carry them to a ninth win.  

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.​