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Bears and Giants: Who Has the Edge?

Analysis: Figuring out a winner in a game with evenly matched teams plagued by the same problems might be as simple as looking at where the game is played.

Bears coach Matt Eberflus summed up the matchup Sunday against the Giants rather accurately, although initially with a bit more optimism than it deserves.

"They're a good football team, very similar to us," Eberflus said. "Starting out new, young crew, good running game, really younger on defense, so it's a little bit of the same type of matchup."

The teams are mirror images, although no one could realistically call either a good team despite 2-1 records.

Both teams own one nice victory to their credit, the Bears' a rain-soaked surprise in the opener and the Giants' win on dry land the same week, but no less of a surprise against the Titans.

Comparisons on both sides of the ball are eerily similar.

Neither team can throw. The Bears haven't allowed a touchdown in the second half. The Giants haven't scored a touchdown in the first half dating back into last year. Both teams can run. Neither team has been able to stop the run, although the Bears did show some improved tackling last week in the second half.

However, Houston abandoned that aspect of the attack after succeeding initially and it may have contributed as much to their loss as the final fateful interception by Roquan Smith.

The Giants had no clue how to stop Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard Monday night when they allowed 5.9 yards per rush. Expecting the spotty Bears run defense to stop a healthy Saquon Barkley, with his ability to stop on a dime while playing on artificial turf at MetLife Stadium, is asking much from their defense whether they use the HITS principle or any other approach.

Conversely, Daniel Jones had a 57.9 passer rating against the Giants on Monday, has been sacked 13 times and owns an 82.7 season passer rating. At least it's not 50.0, which is Justin Fields' rating. Even with a receiver corps largely injured or ineffective, Jones did throw for 560 yards in the first three games.

Fields doesn't even average 100 yards passing a game.

"Like I said earlier in the week, he's been positive, upbeat," Eberflus said. "He's been taking charge of the offense and working on his footwork, working on his timing, working with his receivers with the timing. We're excited to see progress this week."

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It's going to take really fancy footwork to revive this passing attack.

All things being as equal as they appear, two problems the Bears have are dealing with players who could haunt them from the past, and one overwhelming intangible.

Barkley destroyed the Bears in their only previous meeting when he was healthy in 2018, and since then was injured or got injured in their games. His ability to take screen passes or short throws and turn them into touchdowns is particularly troubling for a Bears secondary that has three rookies playing alongside Kindle Vildor and Eddie Jackson due to Jaylon Johnson's quad injury.

Without a lot of viable targets on the Giants' side, it's safe to assume they'll find some way to hurt the Bears with wide receiver Kenny Golladay. 

To date,  Golladay has only hurt himself. Golladay hasn't even caught 50% of his targets since coming over to the Giants in 2021 and this year has two catches on the year, or two less than Darnell Mooney and the same number as Cole Kmet.

Golladay has averaged 3.4 catches for 66.3 yards against the Bears in his career and the former Northern Illinois University/Detroit Lions receiver has three TD catches against Chicago.

A far more dependable asset for the Giants in this is the home-field edge.

The Bears haven't won in New Jersey since Rex Grossman threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns, Thomas Jones ran for 113 yards and a TD, and Devin Hester returned a missed field goal 108 yards in 2006. 

There isn't a hint of Super Bowl in either of these teams and about the only thing dependable is what the home field means. The home team has won seven straight in this series.

The Bears struggled in their only road game to date, and there's no reason to think they will be any more effective with a young team that has three rookies in the secondary and with Fields still trying to figure out where to throw the ball and where to put his feet. 

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven