THE SCOUTING REPORT
WHAT: Chicago Bears (3-0) vs. Giants (1-2).
WHEN: Sunday, 8:20 p.j. at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
SERIES RECORD: The teams have met 55 times in the regular season, and the Bears hold the edge 27-18-2. They have met eight times in the postseason and the Bears hold that edge, too, 5-3.
LAST MEETING: The Giants won their last meeting, 21-16, at Soldier Field on Dec. 2, 2007. The Giants made up a nine-point deficit halfway through the final quarter by scoring two touchdowns within five and a half minutes. Amani Toomer made a diving catch in the end zone, his 50th career score, to bring the Giants to within two points, and Reuben Droughns' ran in the final one for the victory. The pass rush sacked Rex Grossman six times.
INJURIES: Giants – DE Mathias Kiwanuka (neck), T Will Beatty (foot), and C Shaun O'Hara (Achilles and ankle) are out. LB Keith Bulluck (toe) is doubtful. DE Osi Umenyiora (knee) and DT Rocky Bernard (back) are questionable. LB Chase Blackburn (knee), LB Phillip Dillard (hamstring), WR Mario Manningham (concussion), and WR Darius Reynaud (illness) are probable.
WHY THE GIANTS WILL WIN: Although this is not a must-win game, the Giants really need to get back to victorious ways. They have an advantageous matchup here with the Bears, who are not as powerful as their 3-0 record might indicate. Jay Cutler takes plenty of chances, leaving much room for turnovers. And he can be gotten to, as his eight sacks and eight hits after release indicate. So if the Giants can pressure him, especially with the safety and cornerback blitz, they might get a few picks. Then, it's up to Eli Manning to convert those turnovers into points. What you won't see is the mindlessness of the last game, with veteran players losing their heads. The main culprits – David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie, seem intent on chalking that up to a one-game anomoly. Besides, the Bears simply play a rough, tough brand of football, absent the chippiness of Tennessee's defense. The Giants will have to generate a solid running attack, which means Diehl and McKenzie will have to get back to the downhill blocking they're known for. And both tackles will have to take care of pass-rusher Julius Peppers, who has been lining up on both sides.
WHY THE GIANTS WILL LOSE: No Kiwanuka. No Bulluck. Perhaps no Umenyiora. That's going to put a huge dent in the pass rush and run-stopping ability of the Giants' defense. DE Jason Pierre-Paul has shown some raw ability, but it's hard to expect even a first-round pick to step up and make a consistent impact. At linebacker, Clint Sintim will get the start, but he's clearly a second option to Bulluck. The former second-rounder is not a great run-stopper, though he could add to the pass rush whether he's standing up or has his hand on the ground. The Giants will have to pressure Cutler because if they don't, tight end Greg Olsen will simply chew up the linebackers and secondary. The Bears line him up both tight and split to create mismatches, as if the simple presence of a tight end in a pass route hasn't been mismatch enough for Giants linebackers. Michael Boley's speed will come into big play as he tries to contain Olsen. The kickers, punter Matt Dodge and placekicker Lawrence Tynes, had better be wary of Devin Hester. His 62-yard punt return TD marked the eighth of his career, and his 12 combined kick-punt return career TDs ties him for second all-time with Dante Hall. Brian Mitchell leads with 13. Dodge would do well to simply face the sidelines and knock his punts out of bounds. If he line drives one, Hester undoubtedly will take full advantage. Tynes might want to go with the mortar kick and conceded field position at the 25 or 30. Better that than give Hester the chance to take one back from the 5.
PREDICTION: At their worst, the Bears have always given the Giants problems. And this is not the worst Bears team around. They just beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The linebackers, led by Brian Urlacher, are rough and tough, and the secondary is good. The Giants are going to be missing too many pieces defensively to keep up with Cutler and his receivers. Sad to say, but the Bears win this one 27-14.