It's Thursday night football time as the New York Giants try to get their first win by going into Chicago to take on the Bears, who are coming off two straight losses.
Last week I went 10-4 straight up, so I bounced back from two bad weeks in a row. I'm 46-31 on the season straight up.
NY Giants (0-5) @ Chicago (3-2) 8:30 PM
These are two of the teams I have struggled with the most this year. I keep waiting for the Giants to wake up. I've picked them to win three different times and obviously those predictions have all been incorrect so far this year so I'm 2-3 in Giants games. With the Bears, I'm 1-4 in picking their games. I didn't believe in them so much the first three weeks (only got the Minnesota game right), then I picked them the last two weeks and of course those were losses.
For this game I feel pretty confident in picking the Bears to win and to do so in a comfortable way. Why? Because the Giants are a mess. The great pass rush they used to have isn't the same. They can't run the ball. Their passing game can be effective, but Eli Manning's 12 INTs in five games this year are not helping. Part of it is the offensive line isn't playing very well either. To sum it up, the Giants are absolutely awful in every area and I feel like a fool for picking them to win the NFC East before the year.
This should be a good bounce back win for the Bears. They need it to stay in the playoff hunt. There's no reason for them to let up against a weaker opponent like the Giants. Forget about the losses to the Saints and Lions in the past two weeks. Those teams have great offenses that could put points on the board. With the Giants that concern isn't there. They will turn the ball over. The Bears will capitalize and they should win this game.
I like how Jay Cutler has played this year. New head coach Marc Trestman has done a good job of putting him in situations to succeed. His passer rating has been above 90 in four of five games this year, which is a significant improvement for a guy who has a career passer rating of 84.5. They're doing something right. With WR Alshon Jeffrey stepping up opposite Brandon Marshall (Jeffrey had 218 yards last week) the passing game has improved. Perhaps RB Matt Forte will have a big game tonight against a vulnerable Giants defense. I think with the way the Bears offense has played this year they should have some success tonight.
The spread for this game is 7.5 points for the Bears. I think they'll win and cover at home. The Giants offense could wake up and put up a fight for a bit, but they are not a complete team that are capable of winning on the road against a tough Bears team. Bears 31-17
Fantasy Football Five Thoughts
1. The RB position has been crazy all year long, but this year I expect the top RBs to bounce back with good games. If you had to rank the top ten RBs for the week I'd go with: Peterson, Charles, Forte, Martin, Foster, Moreno, Lynch, Murray, Rice and McCoy all have favorable matchups. All of them except McCoy have home games too. While QBs are putting up ridiculously high numbers, it's the RBs that should shine this week.
2. That Calvin Johnson injury is a killer. Last week he was ruled out just an hour before the start of the game against the Packers and the Lions offense looked awful without him. This week he's a game time decision again. It's not a favorable matchup against Browns CB Joe Haden, who is one of the top shutdown corners in the game. I have a feeling that Calvin plays because he's a tough guy, but I wonder if he'll be effective at all.
3. Welcome back Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski! We think. It's the Patriots, so you never know if what they say is true or if they are keeping information from us. Reports are out there saying that Gronkowski is likely to play and if that's the case then one of the top three TE's will be back. It will help Tom Brady a lot, who is coming off one of the worst games of his career. Part of the reason is the lack of weapons. With a difference maker like Gronkowski back in there it should be a big boost for them. The only question is how long can he stay healthy? I'm sure Patriots fans and fantasy football players hope that Gronkowski doesn't miss another game the rest of the year.
4. Last week's Broncos/Cowboys 51-48 thriller was filled with fantasy goodies by plenty of players on both sides of the ball just as I wrote in this column. This week the Broncos get to the play the awful Jaguars at home. The spread is 26.5 points. It's one of the highest in the history of the NFL. And I think they will cover that number. It's reached the point now where you can project Peyton Manning to throw for 4 TDs in a game and get a reaction from somebody wondering why you think it will be only four TD passes. This Broncos offense is special. I love watching it.
5. I feel bad for Atlanta Falcons fans. They have a bye this week, but the loss of star WR Julio Jones for the season is arguably the most significant injury to any star player this year so far. I also feel bad for anybody that owns him in fantasy football leagues because the reality is it won't be easy to replace him. Good luck on the waiver wire.
I'll be back tomorrow with my picks for the rest of this week's games.