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Bears At Giants: When The Bears Have The Ball

(Sports Network) – The implementation of Mike Martz’s offense seems to have struck a chord with Jay Cutler (870 passing yards, 2 INT), who’s put himself well on the way to redemption with an outstanding start to the year. The former first-round pick is completing nearly 66 percent of his attempts and thrown for six touchdowns in the new system, while drastically cutting down his mistakes as well. Hester (6 receptions, 1 TD) and second-year pro Johnny Knox (11 receptions, 232 yards) are the deep threats in Chicago’s multi-faceted attack, with the pair averaging over 20 yards per grab between them, with tight end Greg Olsen (10 receptions, 2 TD) and slotman Earl Bennett (8 receptions) serving as Cutler’s safety valves. Running back Matt Forte (108 rushing yards) has played a major role in the passing game as well, having amassed 202 receiving yards thus far and hauling in half of Cutler’s six scoring deliveries. He hasn’t had the same impact as a runner, though, having averaged a paltry 2.8 yards per carry and failing to gain more than 50 rushing yards in any of the initial three weeks. A questionable front line could be partly to blame for Chicago’s ground struggles and has been somewhat shaky in protection as well. The group won’t have regular left tackle Chris Williams for a second straight contest due to a strained hamstring, though replacements Frank Omiyale and Kevin Shaffer haven’t been much of a dropoff.

Cutler will be attacking a Giants defense that was ripped apart by the only top-tier quarterback its faced this season, when Indianapolis superstar Peyton Manning put up 255 yards and three scores on a sharp 20-of-26 passing in a Week 2 rout. It’ll be up to ends Mathias Kiwanuka (11 tackles, 4 sacks) and Osi Umenyiora (6 tackles, 1 sack) to consistently apply heat on the Chicago field general and disrupt his timing, and for safeties Kenny Phillips (19 tackles, 1 INT) and Antrel Rolle (23 tackles) to remain disciplined and eliminate the big play. New York could also use a return to form from lineman Justin Tuck (19 tackles), a two-time double-digit sack producer who’s gotten off to a slow start. The Bears don’t figure to test New York much running the football, but linebackers Michael Boley (23 tackles) and Jonathan Goff (15 tackles) will surely have to keep an eye on Forte coming out of the backfield as a receiver.