The New York Giants (0-5) and Chicago Bears (3-2) kick off week six of the NFL season with a Thursday Night match-up that will likely dictate the fate of each team. For the Giants, it is, essentially, the very last opportunity to turn their season around. At 0-5, they would have to make history — at 0-6 it would be more like a fairytale (as in, it's never going to happen). Meanwhile, for the Bears, they can either improve to 4-2 and take over a half-game lead in the NFC North or lose their third straight, fall to 3-3 and face an onslaught of questions about their mediocrity. Again.
Ultimately, this game all boils down to the mentality of two cracked and beaten teams. The Bears seem to have the leg-up with what was a 3-0 start to their season, giving them at least some confidence amidst their recent rough stretch, while the Giants are simply struggling for answers. Luckily, those answers may come via simplicity.
Return to Pee-Wee Football Fundamentals
As remarkable as this seems, the Giants need nothing more than clear heads and simplicity. Right now, they're doing absolutely nothing well: missing blocks, missing tackles, missing assignments, dropping passes, getting called for penalties and turning the ball over at an alarming rate. As such, one of their primary focuses on Thursday should be returning to the fundamentals taught at a pee-wee football level. Hold onto the ball, wrap-up and don't cause self-inflicted wounds. It's all about winning small battles at this point.
Physical, Physical, Physical
One of the easiest ways to turn around a season in which you're mentally struggling is to hit your opponents with everything you've got. For five straight weeks, the Giants have been out-physicaled and that's a likely reason they also appear so mentally beaten down. They need to hit the Bears early and often on Thursday night and, in the words of the great Lawrence Taylor, "go out there like a bunch of crazed dogs." This, of course, also plays right into the next part of the (mental) gameplan.
Play with Pride
At the end of the day (royalties to Antrel Rolle), one of the biggest problems facing the Giants is their lack of pride. Historically, even the worst of teams have fought and clawed to avoid being a laughingstock. These Giants are now on the brink and will need to turn it on to avoid being a long-lasting punch line. So rather than crumbling when something doesn't go their way, they'll need to band together and fight back. Even in defeat, this team needs the moral victory of knowing their teammates never quit on them.
With Corey Webster and Jayron Hosley out, Aaron Ross on Injured Reserve (IR) and Charles James only recently being signed to the 53-man roster, McBride has been catapulted into the No. 2 cornerback role. A week ago, he took 81 snaps in coverage of DeSean Jackson & Co., and didn't exactly perform well enough to write home about. Things get no easier for him on Thursday night against the likes of Brandon Marshall and the man he'll likely cover more often, Alshon Jeffery.
For the 5'9'' McBride, the real test he faces is the size mismatch. Both Marshall (6'4'') and Jeffery (6'3'') are big, tall, physical receivers.
BIG GAME ALERT
Defensive end, Jason Pierre-Paul
Win or lose, expect JPP to finally have a game that reminds us all why he was so highly thought of. He began to turn things around a week ago and, albeit briefly, looked like his old self. Perhaps he's feeling better, perhaps it's his confidence returning or perhaps it's just desperation — whatever the case, JPP appears poised to come out of his shell and return to a dominating form of football the Giants truly need.
At 0-5, with only three days of rest, six key players already missing the game (not even including those on IR, PUP or released with an injury settlement) and on the road, it's very difficult to see any scenario in which this current Giants team comes away with a W. And after four straight weeks of incredible hope and optimism (we actually picked a loss to the Dallas Cowboys in week one), it's time to face reality: even prior to the injuries, this Giants team wasn't that good. 0-6, here we come.
Bears 34, Giants 17
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