EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants have played four games this season against defenses ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in both points and yardage allowed: No. 1 New England, No. 3 Buffalo and No. 7 Dallas (twice). They will face another statistically-imposing unit tomorrow when they take on the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field.
Chicago's defense is among the top eight in seven important statistical categories, including fourth in points (17.4 per game), total yards (227.3), rushing yards (95.6) and third-down conversion percentage (35.1 on 46 opposing successes in 131 opportunities).
The Bears feature several excellent defenders. Linebackers Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith and Leonard Floyd were selected fifth, eighth and ninth overall in their respective drafts. (Another outstanding linebacker, Danny Trevathan, will miss the Giants game with an elbow injury.) Cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson were All-Pros last season. Nose tackle Nick Williams leads the team with 6.0 sacks and he can't even crack the starting lineup. Mack, one of the NFL's very best outside backers, is next with 5.5. On the other side, Floyd has 3.0 sacks. Each of those players had a sack in the Giants' victory against the Bears last season in MetLife Stadium.
"Obviously, they're tough matchups on the edges for whoever is blocking," coach Pat Shurmur said. "I think Floyd and Mack, they get special attention. Now, there are times when the guys are going to have to block them one on one. We've watched the tape and we've seen all along that teams have a plan to try to negate the impact of those players, who are very, very good players. That's just the tactics that are involved with playing the game."
"Those guys are really good players, and they're not the only two that can rush the passer," offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. "We have to mix our protections. We have to get the ball out. We have to stay out of third and long. As we say, stay ahead of the chains. Stay on schedule. Then whether or not it's having a guy help chip, as we say. But you can't do it every play, and they know that. They're good at that. They're not just good pass rushers. They have good schemes and they understand when you're trying to keep guys in, it's harder to throw the ball down field with less guys. It's going to be a combination of all of those things. We have to be able to make things happen on first and second down. Stay out of third down. Make first downs on first or second down."
Chicago's defensive is performing at a high level this season under new coordinator Chuck Pagano. He replaced Vic Fangio, who is now the Denver Broncos' head coach.
"Overall, they're very similar scheme-wise," Shula said. "I mean, they're really good. With the talent that they have and the coaching that they have, they can tweak it however they want to and they're still going to be very good."
That defense will present a formidable challenge for a Giants offense that has not rushed for more than 107 yards during the team's six-game losing streak. The Giants were held to less than 85 yards on the ground four times in that span.
Quarterback Daniel Jones has posted some big numbers, including 308 passing yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago vs. the Jets, but has been sacked 22 times in the last four games.
"(Mack) is one of the top pass rushers in the league, so we'll have a plan for that," Jones said. "They're a good group on defense, and like I said, we'll have a good plan for it. It's about what we do, it's about how we execute that plan and us being ready to go."
The Bears' offensive numbers are not as impressive as the defensive stats. They are 30th in total yardage (262.7 a game) and passing yards (182.8) and 27th in points (16.9).
But Chicago has numerous players who can do damage with the ball in their hands, including speedy running back Tarik Cohen, who caught 12 passes for 156 yards vs. the Giants last year. Allen Robinson is a premier receiver and rookie third-round draft choice David Montgomery leads the team with 497 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
"It's an extremely talented group of skilled players," defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. "(Head coach and play-caller) Matt (Nagy) does a good job. He puts them all over the field, puts them in different places, stuff that's designed to hide - just making the same thing look different. They're really good that way.
"(Cohen) is an explosive player who they move around. On some downs, he's a slot receiver. On other downs, he's a running back in the backfield. On other downs, he's in the backfield running wheels and trying to get you in matchups. They do a heck of a job with it, and he's a really dynamic player. I have a lot of respect for his game, because he has the skill aspect, but he's a tough runner, too. He's a tough player."
The big offensive question for the Bears is quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who left last week's loss to the Rams with a hip injury. He has struggled at times – his 82.2 passer rating places him 26th in the league – but has Nagy's full support. The Giants are familiar with backup Chase Daniel, who played the entire game against them a year ago and completed 26 of 39 passes for 285 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions by linebacker Alec Ogletree.
"Unfortunately, (Trubisky) has had some injuries," Shurmur said. "He's a tough son of a gun that's battling back from it. He's played good football. When it comes to (Chase), if he's in there, I think their offense will remain the same to some degree. Maybe there will be a little less zone read, although they will do it in situations with whoever plays quarterback. But I think their concepts will remain the same.
"We have to defend the Chicago Bears' offense, regardless of who's playing quarterback. They're both guys that have led their team to victories. That's how we're approaching it."