Thursday Night Preview - Week 6
Week 6 is here, and to kick things off we’re treated to a matchup between similar teams, despite their records don’t tell the whole story. Both the New York Giants and Chicago Bears are battling injuries, underperforming on defense and desperate to end their losing streaks and right the ship. The Bears come into the game having lost two straight and needing a victory to to avoid falling back in the race for the NFC North, while the Giants are historically bad at 0-5, as only the second team in NFL history to give allow 30-plus points and commit three-plus turnovers in each of their first-five games, and are quickly headed for “dumpster fire” status.
So, while it may be do-or-die time for the Giants, this is still a must-win game for both teams. Let’s take a look at a couple of key factors that will play a big factor in the outcome of tonight’s game.
So far this season, injuries have been a serious and constant problem for both teams. The Giants lost running back Andre Brown early on, and have continued to be plagued by the injury bug ever since. Starting running back David Wilson will miss tonight’s game with a neck injury and four players from the Giants’ secondary, Corners Corey Webster and Jayron Hosley, and safety Cooper Taylor, will also be out. This poses a huge advantage for Jay Cutler and the Bears’ offense and should open up a lot of big play opportunity for Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, as the Giants are currently ranked 30th in pass rush with a -15.9 grade and 21st in pass coverage with a -9.6, and are allowing 269.2 passing yards-per-game, which is 10th-worst in the league.
The Bears have battled injury problems of their own all season. Having already lost defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins for the season, now Stephen Paea is listed as question and will be a gametime decision. Three other highly-important starters will be questionable right up to the coin toss, tight end Martellus Bennett, cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs. Bennett has made a huge impact for the Bears’ offense and fantasy owners alike this season and could have a big day against the Giants’ porous secondary if he can play.
Both team’s are struggling on defense this season, which is a mix of injury woes, underperformance and a lack of talent or depth at key positions. In addition to the abysmal passing stats listed above, the Giants come into Week 6 allowing 126 rushing yards per game, which is tied for fourth-most in the league. It won’t matter much that Chicago is ranked 25th in pass blocking with a -16.6 grade if New York can’t generate pressure.
Chicago’s defense has long been known for dominating opponents in all aspects, but that really isn’t the case anymore. Chicago is allowing 278.8 passing yards per game, which is eighth worst in the league. They also have an overall grade of -29.6, which ranks them at 28th, and aren’t ranked higher than 28 in any defensive aspect except for pass coverage, with a -2.4 grade, which is good for 13th in the league. The one bright spot of this defense is the 97.8 rushing yards-per-game they’ve allowed, which is also 13th best. Whichever struggling, mediocre defense can step up the most here will likely determine the outcome of this game.
Fantasy X-Factor: Alshon Jeffery
Over the last couple of weeks, opposing defenses have keyed in on shutting down Brandon Marshall with double teams and tight coverage, which has allowed Jeffery to finally showcase his talents and make a big impact. In the last two weeks, Jeffrey has 15 receptions for 325 yards and two touchdowns. With the Giants’ secondary in shambles and Martellus Bennett hampered by injury, if he even plays, Jeffrey is in line for a huge game.