With a rookie quarterback who has struggled to throw the ball with any consistency all season, the Bears know they're an easy target for an aggressive veteran defense, which is what they believe they'll be facing this week against the Giants.
"They're a very confident group," Bears offensive coordinator Terry Shea said of the Giants. "We'll have our hands full if we allow our quarterback to go back and think that we're going to take seven steps and have him sit in the pocket. That's why the play-action pass has to be there for us. We'll shorten down (Craig Krenzel's) drop some so he doesn't hold the ball quite as long when he is asked to drop back."
Anthony Thomas is expected to replace injured Thomas Jones (toe) at running back, but that won't change the Bears' emphasis on running the football. It will change the type of runs that Shea calls. Thomas is more effective on quick-hitting plays that emphasize power more than finesse and attacking tackle-to-tackle rather than attempting to run wide. He does not have the elusiveness or speed that Jones possesses, but Thomas has good vision and some limited-area quickness.
BEARS MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Giants RB Tiki Barber, who leads the NFC with 748 rushing yards and has avoided the fumbles that plagued him in the past, vs. Bears MLB Brian Urlacher and WLB Lance Briggs, who leads the team with 70 tackles, five more than Urlacher, who missed two games with a strained hamstring.
--Giants TE Jeremy Shockey against Bears SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer and SS Mike Green, who helped hold the 49ers TE Eric Johnson to one catch for nine yards last week after he entered the game with 45 catches and 484 yards.
GIANTS GAME PLAN
The Giants don't have to do much to be successful defensively vs. Chicago, as long as what they do emulates what they did in Minnesota on Sunday. They will attempt to shut down the Bears' running game (Thomas Jones and Anthony Thomas, basically) and then put the pressure to perform on the rookie QB, Craig Krenzel.
Offensively, the rushing game with Barber and the short- and medium-range passing game operated by Warner should be sufficient. They might try to go deep early, to put a fair-at-best secondary under stress. The major assignment will be to somehow neutralize MLB Brian Urlacher, not a pleasant or easy job under the best of circumstances.
GIANTS MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--The Giants will use LG Jason Whittle, RG Chris Snee and C Shaun O'Hara (or Wayne Lucier) in combination blocking assignments against MLB Brian Urlacher. The goal will be to seal him off, away from where Tiki Barber wants to run. Urlacher is a major force in the Bears' defense and can be a game-breaker if left to his own devices.
--Chicago's LT Qasim Mitchell, 6-6 and 355 in his second year, will be tested by the ultra-quick RDE Osi Umenyiora. Mitchell is a horse in run-blocking but can be beaten off the edge by a fast pass-rusher.
--Giants LDE Michael Strahan gets to work Pro Bowl RT John Tait, a match that might be worth the price of admission. Strahan's prize is a rookie quarterback; Tait's mission is to keep the kid alive.