Battle in the trenches key to New York Giants victory over Chicago Bears 3
Nov 14, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings (23) runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears may be 2-7, but Eli Manning and the New York Giants can hardly afford to take them lightly.

  • New York Giants (6-3)
  • Chicago Bears (2-7)
  • NFL, Week 11, Sunday, Nov. 20, 1 p.m. ET, FOX
  • MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
With an extremely difficult stretch over their final five weeks of the season, facing three divisional opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road, and the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions, the New York Giants will likely need this game against the Bears and next week in Cleveland against the Browns to secure a playoff berth.

The dirty little secret of what has been an abysmal Chicago Bears team this season is the defense really isn’t all that bad. The Bears rank 19th in the NFL in points allowed, giving up 23.9 per game, and 11th in yards allowed, giving up 341.2 per game. Certainly, those numbers aren’t fantastic, but for a team many consider to be among the worst in the NFL, they are surprising.

Much of this success can be attributed to an improved pass rush, who will definitely try to get after Eli Manning and this vaunted Giants’ passing attack. In fact, Bears’ defensive end Pernell McPhee counts on it.

When asked about Manning, McPhee said, “I don’t care what everybody else did. We gonna sack him. He can throw the ball as many times as he wants — we gonna sack him. I’m gonna make sure of that,” via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.

Considering McPhee has two sacks in his past two games, I’d say that’s a fairly tame prediction. However, it will be up to the whole Bears defense to get after the Giants’ quarterback.

In fact, the man who will probably give the Giants the most headaches from a pass rushing perspective is a familiar name. Leonard Floyd, the rookie linebacker out of Georgia who was mocked to the Giants by a number of analysts prior to the draft this season. Floyd has really come on as a pass rusher over the past few weeks, notching four and a half sacks over the past three weeks. Undoubtedly, he will be looking to show the Giants why they should have traded up to draft him instead of the Bears.

Considering the Giants piecemeal line over recent weeks, this battle to protect Eli will not be easy by any means. New York has allowed just 13 sacks this season, tied for third in the NFL, but that is mainly due to the fact that whenever Eli feels the slightest pressure this season, he immediately throws the ball away. While that may be a good solution to Eli’s long-term health, it is hardly the key to a productive offense.

Last week, Giants’ fans got their first glimpse at what an offensive line sans Justin Pugh looks like, and it wasn’t particularly pretty. Certainly, Marshall Newhouse was serviceable at guard, and Adam Gettis filled in well during jumbo sets, but no one who watched the game against Cincy would say the line played especially well. Considering that as of Thursday, the Giants had just six healthy offensive linemen, it’s safe to assume that this group will have their hands full against Chicago on Sunday.

With a number of key injuries along the Giants’ offensive line, as well as a rapidly improving Bears’ pass rush, the battle in the trenches will be the key to victory for New York in their Week 11 match up. While the makeshift offensive line was serviceable against the Bengals, it remains to be seen if it can hold up against the Bears. If they can, the Giants should roll to an easy victory. If not, it will be a very long day for Eli Manning and Co., as they face a hungry defense more than ready to prove their place in the NFL.

Billy Nayden is an SMU Mustang from Connecticut born and raised on New York sports. Avid fan of nearly every sport from MMA to handball. His heart is in NYC, but Billy has seen games on multiple continents, and has frequented arenas ranging from high school gyms to world class meccas.