Despite what Denny Green may think, it’s actually pretty hard to get a read of what type of team the Bears are. We know the defense is fearsome – at this point, it is actually statistically better than last year’s unit. Their DVOA of -26.2 actually ranks 2nd in the league behind the Ravens, but is 5 points better than their DVOA last year of -21.8.

Plax may have disparaged their corners, but the Bears are actually better against the pass than the run, posting an awesome -32.3% DVOA against the pass and “only” a -19.8% DVOA against the run.

But in two of the last three games, they have allowed two pretty shitty offenses – the Cardinals (31st in DVOA) and the Dolphins (26th in DVOA) – to post 286 and 298 yards on them, respectively. This isn’t that awful, but it certainly raises questions about whether this unit is as good as people thought.

In between those two games, however, the Bears threw down a 40-7 ass-whuppin’ (or as George W. would put it, “a thumpin’”) over the Niners, the type of annihilation that makes this team so tough to figure. No team has blown teams out like the Bears this year: 5 of their 7 wins (or 5 of the 8 games they’ve played) have resulted in 27 point victories. Overall, they’ve outscored their opponents by 134 points; By comparison, the Giants have outscored their opponents by 50 points, and the Colts have outscored theirs by 59.

So with the Bears, you have these two contradictory signs: They completely destroy the other team more than half of the time. Granted, the other team usually sucks, but destroying a team like they have is nonetheless extremely impressive. But, in two out of the last three games, they’ve been significantly outplayed by two teams in the bottom-third in the league.


Maybe their vaunted defense has been figured out recently? In his weekly preview of the Giants game, Sean Lahman writes of the Bears possible vulnerability against cutback and power runners. (Take this with a massive grain of salt. No team with a run DVOA of -19.8 can be described as vulnerable against such an encompassing group as “cutback and power runners.” But hey, we have one of the best and most versatile running attacks in the game. And if Ronnie Brown and the Dolphins can do it, maybe we can too.)

“Last week,” Lahman writes. “The Bears were trounced by an inferior Dolphins team, and that game showed several vulnerabilities in their defense. Because of their aggressive style, the Chicago defenders were often caught over-pursuing the ball carrier. They’ve also proven to be vulnerable against big, physical backs like Miami’s Ronnie Brown, who pounded them for 157 yards last week.

That’s a weakness the Giants seem capable of exploiting. Tiki Barber is great between the tackles, and Brandon Jacobs is perfectly suited to running against a team like Chicago. His best games this season have come against speedy defenses with aggressive schemes, like Indianapolis and Atlanta.”

So there you have it, G-Men fans. We may be able to run on this team.


The biggest difference between the Bears of last year (who nobody took seriously) and this year’s version (who, until three weeks ago, were being prematurely crowned NFC Champions) is an offense that has gone from inept to respectable. Last year, the Bears O pulled in with a DVOA of -16.8, making it one of the worst units in the league. This year, they’ve improved to the middle of the pack with a -2.3% DVOA.

The offensive improvement can be traced to their much improved passing game, which has leapt from a horrendous -32.3% DVOA under Kyle Orton to an adequate 1.3% DVOA under Rex Grossman.

This figure would be even better if Grossman didn’t have two of the worst games that any quarterback has had all year during the last three weeks — no exaggeration. In every game but those two, however, he has played at a very high level (and not just in comparison to Kyle Orton). But against the Dolphins, he threw three picks, and two weeks before against the Cardinals, he threw four. Those two games alone have accounted for seven of his ten interceptions.

In his “Any Given Sunday” segment, which examines the most unexpected result of the previous week, Ned Macey asks:

“What can we expect from Grossman going forward? In all honesty, your guess is as good as mine. There is no precedent for a player spending 75 percent of the time as one of the game’s best quarterbacks and the rest of the time as the second coming of Ryan Leaf.”

What does this mean for the Giants? Well, the word on Grossman is that his mechanics break down when he’s faced with pressure, which means that this is quite the inopportune time to lose our two Pro-Bowl defensive ends – I’m not sure what Tuck’s status is. Expect Kiwanuka and Awasom to get the starts, which mean that the game may hinge on the performance of the Rooks.

(The Giants are fortunate, however, that Bernard Berrian, the Bears one and only deep threat, will miss tomorrow’s game with badly bruised ribs. Without Berrian, the Bears don’t really have anyone to stretch the field.)


In other injury news, Carlos Emmons is still questionable, but my guess is he won’t play. Is this guy ever healthy? Brandon Short is also out, so in all probability, Gerris Wilkinson will start at the weak side and Reggie Torbor will start at the strong side. Thank God we have depth, but these injuries are getting ridiculous.

Also, Plax is still listed as questionable. Whether he plays or not will depend on how his back feels when he wakes up tomorrow – nobody really knows. But God, last week’s game sure showed that this guy is pretty indispensable, especially with Amani out.

Although he practiced, Sinorice Moss will not play. So if Plax is out, look for Carter and, I don’t know, Jennings?, to get the start, with Tyree as the third guy.

Madison is also questionable. As I’ve written before, the drop-off between Madison and R.W. isn’t that significant, but still…

Anyway, with all these injuries, who knows what will happen in this game. For that reason, I hope I’m not alone in saying that for the first time in many weeks, I would not be terribly upset if we lost. Yes, it is Sunday night and the Meadowlands will be jumping, and yes, home field advantage is at stake, but without Strahan, Osi, Tuck, Emmons, LaVar, Madison, Amani, and possibly Plax, the G-Men are just not the team that we all hope will make it to the Super Bowl.

(Yes, I know, I wrote that the loss of Amani may actually help us down the line. But not now, obviously, with Plax banged up and Moss out.)

But the Bears recent poor play, and the Meadowlands crowd, and the fact (hopefully) that this is our year, may be enough to push us over the top. Go G-Men!


Oh, actually, another small item: Chad Morton has been replaced by Derrick Ward as a kick returner, the Star-Ledger reports, though he will keep his job as the punt-returner. Good, at least the part about him not bringing back kicks anymore. I was planning on writing something about how Morton’s been terrible – the guy really doesn’t have any break-away speed. But Derrick Ward? Where’s Michael Jennings? What’s the point of replacing Willie Ponder with a raw track-star if you’re not gonna use him to bring back kicks?