G-Men Trying to Recover

The New York Giants are still ahead in the NFC wild-card race, but they may not be much longer if they have a repeat of the last week's dismal performance.

Eli Manning and the Giants look to bounce back from a disappointing loss and try avoiding another second-half swoon on Sunday when they visit the Chicago Bears, who boosted their playoff hopes with another remarkable comeback win last week.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made New York -1 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game, the over/under has been set at 42.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 56% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -1 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

After reaching the midway point of the season with six wins and being within a game of NFC East-leading Dallas, New York (7-4) has lost two of its last three to fall three games behind the first-place Cowboys. Last season, the Giants had six wins at the halfway point, but managed just two victories the rest of the way to squeak into the playoffs at 8-8. In 2004, they started 5-3 only to get one more win the rest of the season.

New York lost to Minnesota 41-17 last Sunday, but still has a one-game lead over Detroit for the top wild-card spot in the NFC. Six teams are 5-6, including the Bears.

"We're 7-4," New York defensive end Michael Strahan said. "We still control our situation and that's encouraging."

Last Sunday's loss was especially tough, though, as Manning matched a career high with four interceptions, and three of them were returned for touchdowns.

Manning, who has six interceptions and three touchdowns in his last three games, was grilled by the New York media for his terrible game. He is trying to put that game behind him and bounce back with a strong outing against the Bears.

"Our focus is on Chicago and getting ready for this game," Manning said. "We have talked about it, we have made some corrections from last week, and now we have put it behind us and move on. Our focus is on Chicago, going there, and playing well."

Manning went 14-of-32 for 121 yards and two picks in the Bears' 38-20 win at Giants Stadium last Nov. 12.

That game was highlighted by an 108-yard missed field goal return by Chicago's Devin Hester, as the Bears scored four touchdowns in a 15-minute span to complete a rally from an early 10-point deficit.

Hester was at the center of Chicago's 37-34 overtime win over Denver last Sunday, scoring on both a 75-yard punt return and an 88-yard kickoff return in the third quarter. In just his second NFL season, Hester broke a club record he shared with Gale Sayers for kick return touchdowns (eight) with his ninth and 10th.

"Seems like every time we need a boost, he's the guy that steps up to the plate," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

Chicago trailed by 14 points with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Charles Tillman blocked a punt leading to Adrian Peterson's touchdown run.

The Bears tied the game at 34 on Rex Grossman's three-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian on a fourth-and-goal with 28 seconds left in regulation. Chicago got the ball first in overtime and drove 50 yards to set up Robbie Gould's 39-yard field goal.

The Bears are still in the wild-card mix, but to make the playoffs they are going to need to string together some wins - something they have yet to do all season.

Chicago had impressive fourth-quarter rallies in its victories over Green Bay, Philadelphia and Oakland, but followed those wins with disappointing losses the next week.

"Right now there is nobody in the NFC that has clinched a spot, so everybody is trying to get into the playoffs," Smith said. "We are one of those teams. We control our destiny.

"As we see it, we started the playoffs last week. We had a first round home playoff game last week. We have the second round home playoff game this week. That is how our football team is looking at it."

Grossman, who is no stranger to negative press in Chicago, finished 17-of-33 for 193 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos, but also threw an interception and fumbled in his second game back as the starter. Grossman has been sacked 19 times in six games this season after being sacked 20 times in 16 games last year. The Giants lead the league with 38 sacks.

Peterson will get the start for Chicago this Sunday after the Bears placed Cedric Benson on injured reserve Tuesday, one day after announcing the running back needed season-ending surgery on his injured left ankle. Peterson had 45 yards on 17 carries last week, and has scored in each of his last two games.

The Giants hope to have running back Brandon Jacobs back after he missed last week's game with a hamstring injury. Jacobs has rushed for a team-high 599 yards on 115 carries, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt.

The Bears have won the last two games over New York, which enters with a four-game road winning streak. These teams have not met in Chicago since a 14-7 Giants' victory on Sept. 17, 2000.

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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