Bears vs. Giants: What to Watch 4
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It’s unlikely the Giants can pull off the upset without rookie running back Saquon Barkley having a big night. The Penn State product has been as good as advertised as a rusher (171 carries, 829 yards, 4.8 average, eight touchdowns) and a receiver (71 receptions, 581 yards, 8.2 average, four TDs).
The 5-11, 233-pound Barkley has an NFL-high seven carries of 25 or more yards, including rushes of 68, 51, 50 and 46 yards. He also has pass receptions of 57 and 55 yards.
The Bears counter with the No. 2 rush defense in the NFL in both yards per game (80.8) and yards per carry (3.6). But after holding the Jets (57), Bills (98), Lions (76) and Vikings (22) under 100 total rushing yards, the Bears allowed 111 against LaGarrette Blount (19-88) and the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s going to take all 11 people to stop [Barkley],” Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “The guy will take any handoff that’s designed to go anywhere, and the ball could end up anywhere. He’s got speed, power, elusiveness, so he’s everything that he was made out to be.”
The Bears haven’t had a negative turnover margin in any game this season — the only team in the NFL without one. They’re tied with the Browns for the lead in turnover margin at plus-14.
The Giants are 3-1 when they have a positive turnover margin (plus-8) and are 0-7 when they have a negative turnover margin.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Bears linebacker Khalil Mack has eight sacks and five forced fumbles but could be due for a big performance after a quiet, one-tackle game against the Lions on Thanksgiving.
The Giants are 26th in sacks allowed per pass play and have allowed 38 sacks overall. Left tackle Nate Solder, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Patriots, has been a disappointment as an expensive free-agent signing. Leonard Floyd might have an even better matchup against right tackle Chad Wheeler on the other side.
The Bears’ mental toughness will be tested in a potential trap game against a 3-8 team on the road. They’re coming off a mini-bye after playing on Thanksgiving and might be prone to exhaling after winning three division games in 12 days. They were noticeably sloppy coming off their actual bye in a Week 5 loss to the Dolphins, but at Halas Hall, that’s considered a heat-related anomaly.
“I always like it when we put together a good week of practice, and I felt like we did that,” coach Matt Nagy said. “The guys are focused and had a good energy to them, which is nice to see.”