A HUGE part of me really thinks the Bears are ripe for their first loss of the season Sunday night when they visit the Giants at their shiny new stadium. The Bears are coming off a huge win over their arch rival and they’re facing a short week of prep work against a desperate opponent playing at home.
And the oddsmakers don’t have much faith in Chicago either, establishing them as a 4-point dog.
But the more I look at this one on paper, the more I think the Bears could finish the first quarter of the 2010 season undefeated by stealing a win in New York.
1) Eli Manning has thrown the most INTs in the league through 3 games – 6. And NY has the second most turnovers in the league with 10. If Lovie’s ball-hawking defenders can help the Bears win the turnover battle, the boys from the Big Apple will be in trouble.
2) The Giants defensive line is banged up. The G-men will be playing without their leading sack artist, Mathias Kiwanuka, who has netted 4 sacks. DE Osi Umenyiora is questionable after missing Friday’s practice.
3) Anyone heard of Matt Dodge? I didn’t think so. But you’ll likely hear a lot about the Giants’ rookie punter on Sunday night. Devin Hester made the Packers rookie ball-kicker look foolish on Monday with a 29-yard return on a low line drive that preceded his 62-yarder for a TD later in the game. If NYG coach Tom Coughlin directs Dodge to direct his punts out of bounds away from Hester, it could lead to good field position through shanked punts. And I think the bright lights and nightmares of being the only obstacle between the Windy City Flyer and a return for TD could have this guy kicking scared on Sunday night.
4) The G-men have one of the worst run defenses in the league, surrendering 137 yards per game. The Bears are only averaging 72 ypg, but a lot of that has to do with a lack of commitment to the ground game. If Mike Martz remains patient and works Matt Forte between the tackles – including some on delayed draws – the Bears should be able to gouge NY’s D to the tune of 100+ team rushing yards.
5) NY center Shaun O’Hara is out and some dude named Adam Koets will be tasked with the challenge of making sure his line mates are lined up correctly to account for the Bears one-man wrecking machine known as Julius Peppers.
6) The intangibles favor the Bears. The Giants will be under extreme pressure to even their record at .500 and perform well in front of an anxious home crowd. A loss would put them at 1-3, and trailing the Eagles and Cowboys in their own division. On the other hand, nobody expected the Bears to be 3 and 0, and the majority of ‘experts’ don’t expect them to get out of NY with a W. The Bears are savoring the no-respect theme they believe they’re getting from fans, teams and media, and would love nothing better than to make another loud statement on national television.