Bears to pounce after the break
David John previews Thursday night's NFL action and fancies Chicago Bears to come from behind to beat the New York Giants.
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New York Giants at Chicago Bears (0130 BST Friday)
There is a morbid fascination that surrounds the Thursday night game in the NFL this week with the Bears as short as 1/5 in places to leave the visitors at 0-6.
That is a Giants side that has won two Super Bowls in recent seasons under the guidance of head coach Tom Coughlin and on-field leadership of quarterback Eli Manning.
But the first five weeks have been a disaster. Beyond the obvious of not being able to win a game, it is the manner with which the team has struggled which gives cause for alarm.
Manning leads the league with 12 interceptions, the offensive line in front of him has disintegrated through injury and old age and their running game ranks 32nd and last in the league.
The defense has not fared much better and they rank 26th overall having given up 182 points over the first five games at an average of 36.2 per outing.
To put that into some sort of historical perspective, not since the 1954 Chicago Cardinals has a team allowed 31 points or more in those first five games.
So is there any way back in the short term? Coughlin has tried to shoulder some of the blame to take the pressure off his quarterback, who has clearly been trying too hard to rescue losing situations. His three interceptions on three consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter against the Eagles last week were a clear example.
But the daft irony is that the Giants are only two games out of the lead in the ropey NFC East so, remarkably, all is not lost just yet.
A short week and the chance to get back on the field may help, a theory also held by the Bears after two straight losses have left them at 3-2.
This is an important game for Chicago in the grand scheme of things too. After a positive start under new head coach Marc Trestman, they have been exposed against Detroit and New Orleans so getting back into a winning groove will be important in terms of just where the team is going this season.
I still don't think quarterback Jay Cutler is entirely happy but his offensive line has done better keeping him on his feet so far while wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey had a real breakout game last week against the Saints.
They have lost two defensive tackles in Henry Melton and Nate Collins for the season with injury though on the other side of the ball and Trestman will have to dig very deep into his reserves - including undrafted rookie Zach Minter - to plug up the gaps on the line.
The spread on the game makes the Bears favourites by up to 9.5 points with the layers clearly not expecting the Giants to make any real impact as their plunge down the rankings continues.
But I reckon Chicago have some demons of their own to conquer and it might be worth having a small interest on the New York Giants-Chicago Bears result in the HT/FT market at 13/2.
Chicago were slow out of the blocks last week but have already fought back a couple of times this season to secure victories late in the day while the Giants have been outscored in the fourth quarter 61-21 so the stats suggest this could swing back in favour of the hosts as the game progresses.
Finally, a touchdown from the Chicago defense or special teams could also be a viable proposition at 7/2.
Manning's current deficiencies have been noted earlier while he is up against a secondary that has forced 14 turnovers so far and one going back for six points is not out of the question.
Verdict: New York Giants 24 Chicago Bears 33