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Road Upset Requires These Ingredients

Bears prerequisites to achieving an upset victory on the road for the first time under Matt Eberflus.

The Bears have pulled off one upset at home and won once at home as a favorite.

Still to come are road wins as favorites and underdogs. Sunday would be a good time to do it as an underdog because they won't have many more games on the road when they rate as good a shot at pulling off an upset.

Doing it against the New York Giants wouldn't be out of the question in a battle between similar teams, but they'd likely need to achieve these three keys to victory before they could pull off an upset.

1. Pressure Daniel Jones Early

Very much a rhythm passer, Jones has ranged from excellent at times to horrible. With Monday night's debacle fresh in his mind, a series of heated pass rushes with either sacks or even near misses could regenerate memories of the five sacks Dallas had a few days ago. DeMarcus Lawrence had three sacks himself in that one. Jones has been sacked 12.4% of the time, which is the second highest figure in the league. New York has allowed 13 sacks. Jones doesn't usually throw a lot of interceptions because he'll throw the ball away before rush men arrive. But panic can cause even the best quarterbacks to struggle. 

The Bears haven't had a great pass rush with just six sacks, so they may need to go beyond their normal pass rush and actually blitz if they are to get to the Giants' QB early. It's not something they've done often. They are 21st in the league at blitz percentage, bringing extra men 22.6% of the time according to Sportradar. That's a figure similar to what Matt Eberflus used in Indianapolis.

"I would like to think that we have some things in our back pocket that we haven’t shown that may come out at the proper time," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said.

This could be the time, considering they won't have too many more friendly matchups that the Giants the rest of the year. 

The biggest danger to blitzing against the Giants is if they send Roquan Smith, they face the possibility of a screen or dump-off without their best tackler available to bring down Saquon Barkley after the catch. This happened last year when Smith wasn't in position to address a wide receiver screen to Deebo Samuel against the 49ers and it went for 83 yards to turn around a game the Bears led.

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2. Disciplined Pursuit of Saquon Barkley

Tackling Barkley can be difficult if tacklers come in high, but it's even tougher to make a tackle of him in the open field by yourself. It has to be gang tackles and the best way is to surround him. 

The last time the Bears played in New Jersey against the Giants they had regained control of a game they started poorly, and had bottled up Barkley. Just before halftime they appeared to have him stopped at the line once but they left one assignment gap open. He froze them with a quick move, darted through the open gap and his big gainer paved the way for a total breakdown of the Bears defense in a 30-27 loss. They have to be disciplined in their gaps.

3. Know Your Hot Reads

Justin Fields has had a hard enough time knowing who and where to throw the ball to in his new offense. The Giants are going to make it even tougher because defensive coordinator Wink Martindale built a reputation in Baltimore for bringing heat in a Buddy Ryan mold. 

The Giants don't cover passes particularly well in the secondary. Their rush is lacking its best threat in injured Leonard Williams, and rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux hasn't recorded a sack. They have only three sacks and one came from a blitzing safety. So the odds say they'll be bringing extra linebackers or defensive backs, and in that case Fields needs to know exactly where he has a hot read or how he can escape the rush without being dragged down. Despite his ability to scramble, Fields has been sacked 18.2% of the time. No one else in the league is close to that and it's an indictment of their offensive line, but also Fields' inability to get rid of the ball quickly.

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