CHICAGO -- The New York Giants are 0-5 for the first time since the replacement-player season of 1987 as they head into Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The only time the Giants have ever started 0-6 was 1976, when they went 0-9 before finishing 3-11. Here's a look at four things to watch tonight as the Giants try to avoid adding to that sorry bit of history.
The Bears are incredibly banged up at defensive tackle, where key players like Henry Melton, Nate Collins and Stephen Paea are either out for the year or have been missing time lately due to injury. This theoretically makes the Bears vulnerable to the run. But the Giants have the worst rushing offense in the NFL this year and are without starting running back David Wilson, who has a neck injury and won't play. It's theoretically possible that Brandon Jacobs and/or Da'Rel Scott could have a good game against that depleted Chicago front, but they've shown little this year that would lead anyone to expect it.
It's hard to forget the game three years ago in which the Giants sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler nine times in the first half and he couldn't come out to play the second. That was an all-time pinnacle game for the storied Giants pass rush, but with just five sacks in five games so far this year the Giants do not appear to be that sort of team anymore. The Bears have started the same five offensive linemen in every game this year and are protecting Cutler much better than they did in the past. Jason Pierre-Paul is long overdue for a big game and could be a difference-maker for the Giants defense if he can get off his blocks.
With key defensive players such as Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman game-time decisions with injuries, the Bears may not be positioned as well as they usually would to force the Giants into turnovers. The Giants have turned the ball over 20 times this year, eight more than any other team in the league. Eli Manning has thrown a league-leading 12 interceptions. The Bears have 14 takeaways, the third-highest figure in the league. If the Giants only turn it over twice in this game, they would have to consider the night something of a success.
Bears wide receivers Brandon Marshall (6-4, 230) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 216) are big and physical and can present matchup problems for smaller defensive backs. Prince Amukamara should be able to hold his own at one of the Giants' cornerback spots, but watch the matchup with 5-9, 185-pound third-stringer Trumaine McBride against whichever of the big guys Amukamara's not covering on a given play.