Let me get the obvious out of the way. The Chicago Bears don’t have a chance against the New York Giants in Week 11. After arguably their worst outing of the 2016 NFL season, the Bears now find themselves at the very bottom of the NFC North with a record of 2-7, and in contention for getting the first-overall pick in next year’s draft.
In last week’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago continued to suffer with injuries to key players, and will have to find a way to fill in those holes against a Giants team that’s on a four-game winning streak. Believe it or not, the Bears still have some playmakers on their roster that are worth keeping an eye on. Here are the five that fans should watch closely.
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You can add starting defensive end Mitch Unrein to the list of players that won’t be suiting up for Sunday’s game against the Giants. Unrein is listed as doubtful on the Bears’ injury list with a back injury, and will be replaced by rookie Jonathan Bullard. The third-round draft pick shouldn’t have to worry too much about stopping New York’s 31st ranked running game, but will still be relied upon to in that aspect. Furthermore, Bullard’s presence on the front line will be greatly needed in helping the Bears’ pass rush.
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Over the past few weeks, rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd has been the Bears’ most consistent player on either side of the ball. In the last three games, Floyd has recorded 4.5 sacks, and is finally showing just why Chicago jumped two spots in the draft to select him before the Giants could get their hands on him. Even with his recent success, Floyd may find it a bit difficult to penetrate a New York offensive front that has surrendered the third-fewest sacks in the league up to this point in the season.
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It never helps when a team’s best offensive lineman is out of commission. Well, this happens to be the case for Chicago’s offensive front. Right guard Kyle Long is out for the season with an ankle injury, and will be replaced by Eric Kush. The Giants are near the bottom of the list when it comes to team sacks (14), but Kush’s protection will be needed much more when trying to pave the way for rookie running back Jordan Howard against New York’s seventh-ranked run defense. In addition to Kush, everyone’s eyes should also be on right tackle Mike Adams, who could more than likely replace Bobby Massie (concussion).
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Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. started the season off slow, but has finally found his groove. Beckham is now the NFL’s seventh-leading receiver with 773 yards, and is tied for fourth in the league with six receiving touchdowns (all of which has come in the last five games). Bears veteran cornerback Tracy Porter will more than likely draw the difficult assignment of covering the two-time Pro Bowler, and much of Chicago’s potential success could rest on the shoulders of him.
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With Alshon Jeffery suspended for the next four games, Kevin White out for the rest of the season, and Eddie Royal listed as questionable with a toe injury, second-year wide receiver Cameron Meredith could be the main focus for quarterback Jay Cutler. The interesting thing is that Meredith had his success earlier this year with Brian Hoyer under center. Now that Cutler is back in control of the offense, will Meredith be as effective in the passing game? The Giants are 22nd in the league in pass defense, so that might help Meredith out a bit.