Sunday Snapshot: Bears vs. Giants

The NFL experts from The Sports Xchange fire away with everything you need to know prior to Sunday's contest, as the Chicago Bears take on the New York Giants in Week 4 at New Meadowlands Stadium.

SUNDAY SNAPSHOT
Kickoff: 7:20 p.m. Central
Surface: FieldTurf
Television: NBC – Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Andrea Kremer
Series History: 48th regular-season meeting. Bears lead series 27-18-2. The teams have met eight times in the postseason, including six times for the NFL championship, with the Bears winning four of those title games.

KEYS TO THE GAME
The Giants insist they aren't surprised the Bears are unbeaten, and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, a former Lovie Smith lieutenant in Chicago, said the diverse offense presents many challenges to his banged-up defense. Giants coach Tom Coughlin has one rule for P Matt Dodge: Don't kick to Devin Hester, who has eight career punt returns for touchdowns. There's no such simple solution for slowing QB Jay Cutler. He has been hit regularly while still finding open receivers downfield. The Bears' defense is tops in the NFL stopping the run (39.7 yards allowed per game, 2.1 per carry). However, deficiencies in the pass coverage were exposed by Tony Romo (374 yards) and Aaron Rodgers (316). Eli Manning has the outside targets to soften the aggressive Bears defense but pass protection will be vital, as will the ability of his receivers to stop deflecting passes to defenders.

FAST FACTS
Hester has 12 total returns, one shy of the all-time record held by Brian Mitchell. ... Bears LB Brian Urlacher has had a part in five takeaways, including a pass deflection intercepted by Lance Briggs. ... Bears DE Julius Peppers has 10 blocked field goals in his career. ... Bears RB Matt Forte, with 1,150 receiving yards since 2008, leads running backs in that category. ... Manning had eight TDs and two INTS after four games in 2009. Entering Week 4, he has five TDs and six INTs.


CB Zack Bowman
Scott Boehm/Getty

PERSONNEL NEWS
Bears:
LT Chris Williams (hamstring) did not practice Thursday and will be replaced for the second straight week by Frank Omiyale, who started the season as the right tackle. ... OT Kevin Shaffer is expected to start at right tackle with Omiyale again switching over to play left tackle. ... CB Zack Bowman, who was benched after one quarter in Week 3, is expected to be back in the starting lineup against the Giants, but Tim Jennings, who replaced him last week, could also get some snaps. ... WR Earl Bennett, who has replaced Devin Aromashodu as the slot receiver in three-receiver formations, had eight receptions in two games but for just 50 yards, a 6.3-yard average. Nevertheless, offensive coordinator Mike Martz likes Bennett's toughness and sure-handedness. ... Hester is fifth on the Bears with just five catches, but he is averaging 18.3 yards per catch. He is also averaging 11.7 yards per punt return after averaging just 7.8 yards last year and 6.2 in 2008.

Giants: C Shaun O'Hara (ankle/Achilles) remains unable to practice. Coughlin said that there was nothing new to report on O'Hara, who earlier this week went to see a foot specialist in Manhattan. Coughlin did say that O'Hara appeared more spry than he's been since the injury first occurred, but he added that it would take "something very good that would have to happen in a short amount of time" for O'Hara to be in the lineup on Sunday night. ... LB Phillip Dillard (hamstring), who returned to practice Wednesday, continued to see his snaps increase on Thursday. Coughlin said that Dillard is coming along but that he wasn't quite sure if the rookie was ready to contribute on Sundays just yet. ... WR Mario Manningham (concussion) returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday. Manningham told reporters that there was no doubt in his mind that he'd be ready to go Sunday night. ... PR/KR Darius Reynaud (illness), who missed Wednesday's practice, returned to practice Thursday. ... DT Rocky Bernard (back) missed his second straight practice Thursday. If Bernard can't go on Sunday night, presumably rookie DT Linval Joseph would get to play in his first regular season NFL game. ... LB Keith Bulluck (turf toe), who missed Wednesday's practice, tried to return to practice Thursday but was still experiencing some discomfort in his toe.

PREDICTION
Bears 24, Giants 23.


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