Beckham sets big goal as Giants prepare to face Bears
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is keeping his schedule clear for the first week of February.
The confident 24 year old has a hunch that he might need to go on a business trip during that time.
"We're really looking forward to Feb. 5 in Houston," Beckham said to ESPN this week. "That's the goal, obviously. I feel real confident in this team. This defense is a Super Bowl defense. The offense, we're working to get better each and every day."
All of that could spell bad news for the Chicago Bears this weekend when the teams meet at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants (6-3) have won four games in a row -- with each victory coming by single digits -- and are aiming for their first five-game winning streak since 2011. Under first-year coach Ben McAdoo, the team is 4-1 at home and already has matched its six-win total from a season ago.
The outlook is not nearly as bright for the reeling Bears (2-7). Chicago has dropped four of its past five games and is 0-5 on the road this season as the team prepares to head east.
To make matters worse, the Bears will not have two of their best players on offense. Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long was placed on injured reserve this week after being carted off the field with a right ankle injury against Tampa Bay, and Pro Bowl wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will serve the first game of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Even at full strength, the Giants defense would have been a tough test for Chicago.
The Giants have a top-10 rushing defense (92.1 yards allowed per game) and have held opponents to 20.4 points per game, which is No. 11 in the league.
Second-year safety Landon Collins has emerged as the best player on a strong defensive unit. Collins has racked up four interceptions, three sacks and 74 tackles in his first nine games of the season.
On paper, the Bears' offense does not match up well against the Giants' defense. Chicago has managed only 15.7 points per game, which is second-to-last in the NFL. Meanwhile, mercurial quarterback Jay Cutler is coming off his worst outing of the season as he threw two interceptions and fumbled twice against the Buccaneers.
Rookie running back Jordan Howard dinged up an ankle in Week 10 but returned to practice this week. If Howard regresses, look for the tandem of Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey to carry the ball for the Bears.
But who will catch Cutler's passes -- assuming they are on target?
With Jeffery suspended and Kevin White on injured reserve, the top receiving option for the Bears is tight end Zach Miller (44 receptions, 425 yards, 3 TDs). Meanwhile, wide receivers Cam Meredith and Marquess Wilson likely will see more action on the outside.
Meredith, 23, joined the team in 2015 as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound flanker has impressed head coach John Fox this season as he has caught 29 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns.
"He's got good length," Fox said. "He has a good feel for pass coverage as far as getting on a (defensive back's) feet, the kind of things it takes to get open. He's a young guy that continues to work very hard to improve, and he's getting rewarded for that with playing time."
When the Giants have the ball, look for Beckham to stretch the field and try to create havoc against the Bears' young secondary. Beckham leads New York with 54 catches for 773 yards and six touchdowns, including three scores in his past two games.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning has benefited from Beckham's brilliance, but the 35 year old also has made some careless mistakes in recent weeks. He has thrown two interceptions in three of his last four games.
In the backfield, Giants running back Rashad Jennings is averaging only 3.2 yards per carry. However, Jennings showed flashes last week as he rushed 15 times for 87 yards (5.8 yards per carry) in a win over Cincinnati.
So could the Giants be a Super Bowl squad? Maybe, maybe not.
But the coach does not mind his star player's public confidence.
"That's our goal," McAdoo said. "That's why we come to work every day. We want to make sure we get here and put our work in, put our time in.
"But we have a lot of work to do until we get to that point. It's good to have aspirations."