FOX Sports contributor Michael Lombardi is a personnel evaluator by trade who served as the Cleveland Browns general manager in 2013. Lombardi began his career with the San Francisco 49ers organization in 1984. He spent time with the 49ers (1984-86), Browns (1987-95, 2013), Philadelphia Eagles (1997-98), Oakland Raiders (1999-2007) and New England Patriots (2014-15) during his career, earning Super Bowl rings with San Francisco (1985) and New England (2014). Most recently, he served as a special assistant to the Patriots coaching staff during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, working closely with head coach Bill Belichick. Before every big NFL game, he assembles a report that breaks down the matchup from a front office perspective. He shared his three-point look at Sunday's Chicago Bears vs. New York Giants (FOX, 1 p.m. ET) game with us.
This game is all about the Giants, given that the Bears are 2-7 and all but out of the playoff race, so let’s look at a few things from New York’s perspective:
1. The Giants’ passing defense was strong on second down in last week’s win against the Bengals, but that’s nothing new. New York is first in the league – by a wide margin – in QB rating allowed on second down. It has allowed just a 60.8 rating, and the second-ranked Cardinals are at 71.0. Considering 11 teams are in triple digits, the Giants are remarkably tough in this area.
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2. The Giants are 6-3, but their average margin of victory is just 3.5 points. This might seem like a matchup they should win handily, but New York plays a lot of close games. All six of its wins have been by seven points or fewer, and its 24-10 loss to the Vikings was its only defeat by a greater margin than seven points.
3. Can the Giants win when the weather turns cold? The numbers don’t support them. They rank 25th in the league in third-and-1 conversions and are bad in the red zone on all third downs. They also rank 31st in the league when they face the blitz. When an offensive line struggles to handle good fronts in these situations those problems only get worse in cold weather. Sunday’s New York forecast is for 50 degrees, but things will only get chillier as the season goes on.