The Giants hit the road for the final time this season when they travel to Chicago to take on the Bears at Soldier Field.
The Giants split the season series with the Eagles last week when they lost to ther division rivals, 34-10, at Lincoln Financial Field. The defense held Philadelphia's No. 1 rushing attack to just 130 yards, while Jalen Hurts was limited to under 200 passing yards. But the Big Blue offense struggled to move the ball, scoring just three points until the end of the fourth quarter.
After losing three consecutive games, the Bears were able to fly to Seattle and upset the Seahawks, 25-24. Seattle was winning for most of this contest, but veteran QB Nick Foles was able to lead the Bears down the field late in the fourth quarter and found Jimmy Graham in the end zone for a touchdown with just over a minute left. Bears head coach Matt Nagy decided to go for two for the win, which was successful, and Chicago emerged with the victory.
Here are five storylines to follow in this Week 17 matchup.
The Giants and Bears head into this weekend with questions at quarterback. For the Giants, neither Mike Glennon nor Jake Fromm stood out last week, so head coach Joe Judge told the media Wednesday that both players may get on the field against the Bears.
"We'll prepare both guys, similar to last week," said Judge. "We'll prepare both guys, both guys will have their share of the load this week in practice as far as sharing some reps. I would expect to see both guys play."
Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields (ankle) missed last week's win and it is still too early to tell if he will suit up on Sunday. Andy Dalton has started four games for Chicago this season, going 2-2, but it was Nick Foles leading the offense to over the Seahawks. If Fields is unable to go, Foles is likely to get the start for the second consecutive week.
"They have three talented quarterbacks," Judge said about Chicago's QB room. "All three have played this year. All three can make plays in different ways, whether it's the young guy (Justin) Fields, who's obviously a guy who's got a strong arm, very athletic, very talented, has the ability to make a lot of big plays outside the pocket, does a good job keeping his eyes down the field and taking shots. You talk about (Nick) Foles getting in the other day. He's obviously a very experienced guy, can push the ball down the field, very good arm. And obviously, (Andy) Dalton is a very accomplished player in this league, really knows how to take the profit, move the ball down the field consistently."
"There are no meaningless games"
The loss in Philadelphia officially eliminated the Giants from playoff contention for the fifth straight season. Chicago is out of the race, too, but Judge talked about there being no such thing as a meaningless game in the NFL.
"We all lost John Madden last night," Judge said. "One thing John Madden was great about when you really sit back and you listen to some of the things that he said throughout his career, and he talked about the importance of every game and every opportunity in the National Football League, and the value of the opportunity that we have to coach or play in this league. None of that should be taken for granted. I hear people all the time say 'meaningless games.' What is a meaningless game? Everyone here has worked very hard to be in this position, to play or coach in this league. We're only guaranteed or promised so many games a year. It's a privilege to have the opportunity to go out here and compete. There's no such thing as a meaningless game. There's wasted effort, there's wasted preparation, but there are no meaningless games."
Meanwhile, there are draft implications. The Giants and Bears conducted a trade in the first round of this year's draft, with the Bears moving up to No. 11 in order to select Fields. The Giants emerged from draft weekend with Chicago's first and fourth-round picks in 2022.
As it stands now, the Giants' own first-round pick sits at No. 5, while the Bears are at No. 8. The Giants will conclude their season at home against Washington, while the Bears will finish up in Minnesota. The Giants could go into next year's draft with two Top-10 picks.
The Giants welcomed several players back in the building Wednesday after being cleared from the COVID list. Defensive backs Adoree' Jackson and Keion Crossen, along with wide receiver John Ross, cleared COVID protocols and returned to practice, all as limited participants. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence was added to the list Wednesday morning, joining defensive tackle Danny Shelton, offensive tackle Nate Solder and defensive back Julian Love. While Lawrence's availability remains up in the air, Judge hopes to get the other three players back in time for Sunday's game.
"Dexter Lawrence just popped COVID for us," Judge told the media Wednesday. "Danny Shelton, Solder and Love have all been on the COVID list. Now, all three of those guys would have the ability under the new protocols or guidelines to play in the game if their symptoms improve and they're able to play physically. Timetable-wise, all three would be able to play."
The Giants had a long list of players sit out practice to start the week, including running backs Saquon Barkley (Ankle) and Gary Brightwell (Neck), wide receiver Kadarius Toney (Shoulder), tight end Kyle Rudolph (Ankle) and kicker Graham Gano (Illness). Overall, 14 players were listed on Wednesday's injury report, with nine of them not participating in practice.
The Bears have three players on the COVID list: veteran defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, tight end Jesper Horsted and linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe.
View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Chicago Bears ahead of their Week 17 matchup.
Slowing down Montgomery and Mooney
Chicago should have their top two offensive playmakers on the field, starting with running back David Montgomery this weekend. Montgomery leads the team with 183 rush attempts for 713 yards and five touchdowns, adding 38 receptions for 277 yards in 11 games. The young running back has shown tremendous ball protection this season, fumbling the ball just once.
Montgomery's 38 receptions rank third on the team. However, the top target in Chicago's aerial attack is second-year wide receiver Darnell Mooney. In 15 games (13 starts) this season, Mooney has registered 63 receptions for 680 yards, both of which lead the team, while his three receiving touchdowns are tied with Jimmy Graham for the most on the Bears.
Second-year tight end Cole Kmet ranks second on the team with 53 receptions for 539 yards, but has yet to find the end zone. Veteran wide receiver Allen Robinson should also suit up after being activated from the COVID list on Monday.
"That's something this team really does as a strength is they have a lot of extended drives," Judge said on Wednesday. "One of the top teams in the league in having drives over 10 plays long, so they can stay on the field, they can capitalize, they have good schemes, they have good systems, they have good coaching. They're a team offensively that likes to stay balanced and make plays."
Despite playing in different divisions, the Giants and Bears have seen each other quite a lot in recent years. Sunday's meeting between two of the league's storied franchises will mark the fourth consecutive season they face off, and the fifth time in six years. Oddly enough, each of the last four meetings have been decided by one score. The Bears have won the previous two meetings by a combined nine points, while the Giants emerged victorious in 2018 and 2016 by a total of nine combined points. Both of the Bears' wins came at Soldier Field, while the Giants' victories occurred at MetLife Stadium.
During last year's Week 2 matchup between the clubs, Montgomery registered a game-high 127 yards from scrimmage (82 rushing, 45 receiving) and a touchdown. Mooney also caught a touchdown pass, finishing with three receptions for 36 yards and the score, while the Bears defense recoded four sacks and one interception of Daniel Jones.
"You talk about this team, you start offensively with (Head Coach) Matt (Nagy) being an offensive-minded head coach," Judge said about the Bears. "When you talk about his team, one thing is they're balanced. They do a very good job being run and pass balanced. They're very committed to the run. You see a lot of effectiveness in how they can go ahead and stay with it and set up other aspects of their game."