*Here are the storylines to follow as the Giants begin prep for the Bears: *
Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Bears
1. NO OVERLOOKING CHICAGO
If the season ended today, the NFC East would send three teams onto the postseason. The Cowboys lead the conference at 8-1, while the Giants (6-3) and Redskins (5-3-1) currently occupy the two Wild Card spots.
The Eagles are right behind at 5-4, rounding out the only division with all four teams above .500. But that doesn't mean a whole lot with seven games to play. The Giants wrap up an extended homestand with a visit from the Bears on Sunday. Chicago, which won the last meeting with Big Blue in 2013, lost to the Buccaneers in Week 10 to fall to 2-7 on the season.
"This is the National Football League," said coach Ben McAdoo, whose team won its fourth straight game on Monday night against the Bengals. "You have to prepare your best for the highest level. It doesn't matter who you're playing. Throw all the records out the window. Anyone can beat anyone, anywhere in this league. We need to have a great week of preparation. We're on a short week."
2. INJURY REPORT
The compressed schedule doesn't do any favors for the Giants, who lost their second starting left guard last week. With Jusitn Pugh already out because of a knee injury, his replacement, Brett Jones, left the game after the first series due to a calf injury. Marshall Newhouse, who has played tackle for most of his career, stepped up in his place. Meanwhile, return specialist Dwayne Harris (toe) missed the entire second half vs. Cincinnati, and Victor Cruz missed his first game of the season due to an ankle.
"The challenge is it's a short week," McAdoo said. "We're not going to do much [Wednesday]. Thursday's practice will be big for a lot of these guys."
3. BEARS LOSE TWO PRO BOWLERS
The NFL has suspended Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery for four games without pay for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. The suspension begins immediately for the former Pro Bowler, who has 40 receptions for 630 yards and a touchdown this season. His average of 15.8 yards per catch is tied for 13th in the NFL.
"We're very disappointed," Bears coach John Fox said. "I think he's fairly embarrassed about it, but we'll support him and welcome him when he gets back after serving his suspension."
Meanwhile, Chicago also placed two starters on injured reserve this week: right guard Kyle Long, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and nose tackle Will Sutton. They both suffered ankle injuries in Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay.
4. TALE OF THE TAPE
Offensively, the Bears are 16th in total yards per game (347.3), 19th in passing (247.9), 21st in rushing (99.4), and 31st in scoring (15.7 points). After missing five games because of a right thumb injury, quarterback Jay Cutler returned in Week 8 and is completing 59.8 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and four interceptions in four games. Jordan Howard leads the team in rushing and is 11th in the league with 605 yards. Tight end Zach Miller is first on the Bears with 44 receptions.
Defensively, Chicago is 11th in yards (341.2), 12th against the pass (242.8), 11th against the run (98.4), and 19th in points allowed (23.9). Vic Fangio's defense is also tied for eighth with 24 sacks, led by Willie Young (6.5), rookie Leonard Floyd (5.0), and Akiem Hicks (4.0). Linebacker Jerrell Freeman is tied for seventh in the league with 81 tackles. The Bears have eight takeaways and a minus-five turnover differential.
5. FEAR THE RUSH?
With Justin Tuck in the building for his induction into the franchise's Ring of Honor, the Giants' pass rush helped secure a 21-20 victory over the Bengals. After linebacker Jonathan Casillas, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, and pretty much the entire defensive line got to quarterback Andy Dalton on second down with under four minutes left in the game, defensive end Olivier Vernon sacked him again on third-and-17. Cincinnati was forced to punt and never got the ball back. And after having four sacks and two interceptions in the first five games, the Giants have 10 of the former and seven of the latter in the last four outings. Now they face the Bears, who gave up 10 sacks in their most recent visit to MetLife Stadium in 2010.
"I think they're growing," McAdoo said. "It was a good night for them [Monday] night. They seemed to gain confidence as the game went on. They played aggressive. The defensive line had some good snaps, that's for sure."