On Sunday, Bears vs. Giants will kick off at noon CT in East Rutherford, NJ. Dating back to 1925, the Bears and Giants have faced off 62 times with the Bears owning the series record at 36-24-2.
This rivalry goes way back to the dark ages of the NFL. The two teams met in six NFL championship games before the start of the Super Bowl era, with the Bears winning four of those titles. In the 1934 Championship game, the Giants won 30-13, coming back from a 13-3 deficit in the fourth quarter. At halftime of that game, the Giants switched into basketball sneakers to combat the slick frozen condition of the Polo Grounds.
Since the Super Bowl era began, the Bears and Giants have crossed paths in the playoffs twice. Both playoff games included two of the greatest defensive units in NFL history in the Buddy Ryan 46 Defense and Bill Belichick’s Big Blue Wrecking Crew.
Bears vs. Giants Betting Lines
In the above table, I have noted the spread and the projected spreads. Projections are according to my four models (DVOA, EPA, Poisson, LinReg), PFF, and 538’s models for Bears vs. Giants. Why use so many different models? Because they serve as a crosscheck for each other. The more models that say something is a good bet, the more assurances you get. After all, that is what all of us gamblers want, assurances.
Bears and Giants Cover History
"Good coaches win. Great coaches cover the spread."
Since 2019, the Bears have been road dogs 20 times, with a record of 7-13 ATS. Additionally, they are 6-14 on the money line (Bears to win straight up) in these situations, and 9-11 on the over. While the Bears' betting stats under Matt Nagy are not exactly relevant to the current circumstances, I do think recent history is still worth considering.
Since 2019, the Giants have only been home favorites six times (including Monday night) with a record of 2-4 ATS. Additionally, they are 3-3 on the money line (Giants to win straight up) in these situations, while they are 2-4 on the over.
On Monday Night Football last week, the Giants were home favorites over the ailing Cowboys for the first time since Week 3 of last season. They lost to Dallas with a final score of 16-23. This year is the first season for new Giants' head coach Brian Daboll. In the first three games, Daboll has covered as a dog twice and lost as a favorite once.
Bears vs. Giants Team Stats
Advanced stat rankings for the 2021 season are shown for the Bears and Giants here. This includes DVOA, success rates, EPA/Play, and an average ranking of all three for offense and defense.
Giants Positional Breakdown & Key Players
The “Pos. Rank” uses multiple position-specific stats to generate a relative ranking for each player at their position. The percentile is simply a representation of their rank. For example, from 2020-2022 Dexter Lawrence ranks in the 81st percentile among all qualifying interior defensive linemen.
The average Giants offensive starter ranks in the 39th percentile for their position from 2020-2022. Meanwhile, the average Giants defensive starter ranks in the 48th percentile for their position from 2020-2022. The Bears' positional rankings can be seen in the “Extra Points” section.
Giants Scouting Report – Offense
Play-Caller: Brian Daboll
To get a better idea of the Giants' attack against an Eberflus-type defense, I reviewed the All-22 film from the Giants' Week 2 victory against the Panthers. I chose the Panthers game because the Panthers' defensive coordinator, Phil Snow, served as a linebackers coach for Rod Marinelli in Detroit from 2006-2008. As has been noted previously, Eberflus has a close relationship with Marinelli.
In the passing game, the Giants try to get the ball out quickly with a lot of the action happening close to the line of scrimmage. They feature a lot of play-action, as Daniel Jones has the sixth-highest play-action rate among all starting QBs. However, they have not been a very downfield offense off the play-action. Jones's average depth of target is only 4.6 yards on such plays. That number could be driven by quick-hitting RPOs that the Giants do feature.
Daboll does a good job of using his QB's strengths to put the defense in conflict using RPOs and motions. On non-play action passes, Jones’ average depth of target is 7.8, which is around the NFL average. The Giants do a good enough job disguising their blocking fronts on play-action passes, but you can find some cracks in their technique to tell pass or run.
Daniel Jones is a plus athlete with deceiving speed. Additionally, he has good arm talent with enough strength to rocket the ball into tight windows and to hit out-breaking routes outside the numbers. Although, he does tend to run himself out of clean pockets and overthink open reads because he is nervous about pressure. When this happens, the defense often has opportunities to take the football away. When pressure does get into the pocket early, Jones throws the football up for grabs rather than hitting check-downs consistently. The moral of the story here is to create pressure early to make Jones uncomfortable.
On the offensive line, the blocking is still a work in progress. Andrew Thomas has become a known commodity at left tackle, but the rest of this offensive line is still figuring it all out.
On the right side, rookie first-round pick Evan Neal and veteran Mark Glowinski are still feeling out their communication process and assignment soundness. Both Neal and Thomas can be susceptible to a strong bull rush in pass protection. Feliciano is sound at center, but can was confused by a few over-load looks in his gap against the Panthers. At left guard, the Giants are playing Ben Bredeson, who has only played 503 snaps since entering the NFL in 2000.
Giants Scouting Report – Defense
DC: Don “Wink” Martindale
Base: Hybrid / Versatile
The Giants and Wink Martindale are going to blitz early and often. Additionally, they are going to be constantly changing up their fronts to try to create confusion. Martindale is one of the best play-callers around when it comes to scheming a free rusher with only a four-man pressure. He also believes in blitzing on first down, hoping to disrupt the timing of the play script. Over the years, Martindale has consistently remained on the cutting edge of defensive innovation.
Martindale loves to load the line of scrimmage with 6-7 players and bring anywhere between four and seven players after the QB. It is a consistent theme in the Giants' film. It makes the protection calls more strenuous on the offensive line and more difficult to execute because they never know who is coming from where. It could be a safety, a linebacker, or a cornerback coming for the QB from almost any alignment. Additionally, he will rotate coverages at the snap and make pre-snap reads hell on the QB. Wink is a fun coordinator to watch.
On pass defense, the Giants run a lot of what amounts to one-on-one coverage. Because of that, routes that rub and cross are highly effective at generating openings, especially against linebackers in the middle of the field. On quick pass concepts, the Giants' outside CBs are trained to play an aggressive and downhill brand of football. They come at the target without hesitation and pull at the football. While this does make the quick game more difficult, it also creates openings for yards after the catch due to missed tackles.
The linebackers tend to play on their heels in coverage, sitting in deeper zones. This opens the short game over the middle of the field and creates opportunities for QB scrambles.
The pass rush is a bit of a mystery to this point, as first-round draft pick Kayvon Thibodeaux and EDGE Azeez Olujari have not played many snaps due to injury. Thibodeaux and Olujari are skilled EDGE players who could pose a problem if available. Additionally, Leonard Williams is a powerful man on the interior who can generate a solid bull rush. While Dexter Lawrence is a brick wall, he does not generate much push in the pass rush.
Looking at the Giants' run defense, Williams and Lawrence generate a brick wall on the interior. They both possess good power and can two-gap and take on double teams. However, the Giants have lacked run-stopping talent on the edges so far in 2022 due to injuries. And the linebackers on tape did not show much that would make you question running the football against this unit. The defensive backs continue to play an aggressive and downhill style of football in run support. Most notably, safety Julian Love is all over the field and loves to rip at the football.
One final note is the way the Giants vary their kickoffs. Against the Panthers, the Giants varied their kick style between normal kicks, pop-up kicks, and squib kicks. This is something the Bears should be prepared to return against. Additionally, the Giants managed to force fumbles on multiple of the Panthers' kick returns. This team guns for the football.
Bears vs. Giants Summary and Prediction
Over the last three years, the Giants have lost to the Bears in Chicago by point differentials of five, four, and 26. Because of that, I am a little nervous about the Bears going into the Meadowlands against a Giants team that has a little more fight in them than in previous years.
However, I think the Bears have a more disciplined team and a clear offensive identity (even if I do not love it) that can lead them to points. Both teams have only put together six touchdown drives of 50-plus yards so far this season. Both teams will rely on turnovers and the ground game to get the offense moving, and both teams have had their issues stopping the run.
And finally, both teams have had underwhelming QB play through three games. Although I am extremely biased, I trust Justin Fields to make a few more plays than Daniel Jones and for the Bears to sneak out of this game with their third win.