By Paul Dottino
CHICAGO (WFAN) — For all practical purposes, the Giants have reached the point of no return.
No team that started 0-5 team has ever made the NFL playoffs, which means they can cling to the long-shot belief that they could become the first.
But it has to start with a win Thursday night over the Chicago Bears (3-2).
If the Giants can somehow play up to the expectations that were set for them before the season, they might be in position to use one win as a springboard to to eventually getting within earshot of .500, but that’s a pipe dream without a victory at Soldier Field.
Here are three key matchups to watch:
1. Bears RB Matt Forte vs. Giants LBs: Forte has become one of the NFL’s most productive all-around running backs. He has run for 375 yards and is ranked fourth among RBs, with 27 catches for 200 yards. Quarterback Jay Cutler has found him to be the perfect check-down option, taking advantage of mismatches against linebackers. It will be critical for the Giants to shadow him — maybe with Spencer Paysinger — so that Forte does not consistently bail out Cutler with a short reception.
2. Giants RB Brandon Jacobs vs. Bears LB Lance Briggs: The Giants badly need to establish some sort of power running game and it is beyond time to unleash Jacobs to the tune of 15-20 carries against Chicago’s depleted defensive line. The challenge is keeping Briggs, a tackling machine, away from the play long enough for Jacobs to build enough momentum for a productive run.
3. Bears QB Jay Cutler vs. Giants SS Antrel Rolle and FS Ryan Mundy: If the Giants are able to contain Forte, the mistake-prone Cutler likely will fall into his old habit of trying to do too much. For reference, see the Giants’ Eli Manning. Cutler has thrown four of his six interceptions to safeties this season, either by forcing the ball or not seeing the coverage. The Giants’ secondary needs to attack his passes and make sure they do not allow big-play wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to make plays on the ball as the Eagles’ targets did last weekend.
PREDICTION: Bears 27, Giants 20.
RECORD VS. SPREAD: 3-2.
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