The 6-3 New York Giants are poised to extend their record to 8-3 the next two weeks with games against the 2-7 Chicago Bears and the 0-10 Cleveland Browns, but if there's anything they have learned over the past few years is to not look past any opponent. The Giants aren't.
"They're hungry, they got their backs against the wall. We expect a great fight on Sunday afternoon," Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said on Wednesday. "Defensively, they're well-coordinated, they're talented up front, they have a lot of length. Offensively, a Jay Cutler-led offense, you always have to be ready for explosive plays. We have a challenge ahead of us there. Up front, Josh Sitton has been a solid addition for them and helps pave the way for Jordan Howard. Zach Miller has been productive at the tight end spot and he's always dangerous running down the middle of the field. And as we know, Eddie Royal is a good player for them in the slot."
The reality is the Giants are well positioned this week against this Bears team. Chicago is reeling after a 36-10 whooping against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Cutler, whose days in the Windy City are numbered, was especially horrible, earning Pro Football Focus' worst grade (26.6) of any quarterback in Week 10.
He will be under pressure this week, too. The Giants have revved up their pass rush and the Bears' offensive line is hurting. It could be another rough outing for Cutler, who lost his job to Brian Hoyer a few weeks ago only to get it back after Hoyer suffered a broken arm.
This week, Chicago lost Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long for the season with an ankle injury, and two other offensive linemen, Mike Adams (illlness) and Bobby Massie (concussion) did not practice Wednesday. In addition, Sitton (ankle) is limited this week. Add in the four-game suspension to star WR Alshon Jeffery (PEDs) and a supposed ankle injury to Howard, and the Bears' offense could be dead on arrival this week at Newark Airport.
Only the Rams have averaged fewer points per game than the Bears' 15.7. Chicago is 18th in the NFL in passing and are averaging a respectable 4.6 YPC on the ground, but that was with Jeffery and the full set of linemen in the lineup. They have scored only 46 points over the last month.
On defense, Chicago is 11th overall in the league (12th passing, 11th rushing), which has kept them competitive each week. Those numbers haven't equated to wins in the standings, however. That has not fooled McAdoo, who has vowed to have his team ready for the peaks and valleys of the NFL season.
Bears head coach John Fox, who has taken two seperate franchises to the Super Bowl, is continuing to go about his business despite the 2-7 record. They don't hand out the Lombardi Trophy in Week 11. He spoke about the state of his team, which is said to be is disarray, to reporters on Wednesday.
"I think that these guys understand that there is still almost a half season of football left. I think that our division is pretty clumped up," he said. "Believe it or not, we are only three games out of the division lead, so I think we still have a lot of games in there. I think we have only one AFC opponent left. I have been there before. One year in Carolina we were 1-7 and finished 7-9. If we win the last game, we finish 8-8 and are in the playoffs, so I have always been under the adage of, 'It isn't over until the fat lady sings.'"
Coming off a Monday night game is typically challenging and McAdoo is aware of the pitfalls of a short work week. He scoffed at the notion that this was a "trap game."
"There's no such a thing as a trap game," he said. "We have to be ready to play each and every week in this league. Especially this week, coming off of an emotional night game on Monday night. We have to make sure we're dialed in. We got everything we could out of today's practice. More of a jog through type mentality and tomorrow we have to squeeze everything out of Thursday."