(3) Will the Bears be able to contain two of the NFL’s most dangerous playmakers in running back Saquon Barkley and receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
The No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, Barkley has emerged as a star as a rookie. He ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing with 829 yards and eight touchdowns on 171 carries and is tied for 10th with 71 receptions for 581 yards and four TDs.
“When Barkley was at Penn State, [Bears safety and Penn State alum Adrian] Amos said right now Barkley’s a top three back in the league,” said cornerback Prince Amukamara. “He wasn’t even in the league yet, and everyone’s laughing at him. And then you see what he’s doing now—of course he has to sustain it—but he’s been playing lights out for them. He’s just a big guy but can run fast, is elusive, can shake guys. Coach Vic[Fangio] echoed it to us that we’re going to have to bring our hard hats and we’re going to have to tackle.”
Like Barkley, Beckham is also a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. The Giants receiver ranks eighth in the NFL with 74 catches for 1,017 yards and five TDs.
(4) Will the Bears suffer any sort of letdown after winning three division games in 12 days and then having last weekend off?
Nagy has done an excellent job of ensuring the Bears are focused solely on the task at hand—wearing blinders and ear muffs to block everything else out, he says—and isn’t worried about a letdown against the Giants.
“No, I’m not,” Nagy said, “just because I feel like if there was going to be an exhale, they had every reason in the book to have an exhale after a big Sunday night win against the Vikings and exhale and have every reason in the book to come out flat against Detroit and they didn’t. That teaches me who they are and they’re grown men that understand where we’re at now and they take this game very seriously. They understand that they need to be professionals and right now we have put ourselves in this spot. It’s my job to make sure that we stay in it.”
Nagy also isn’t concerned that the Bears will look past a last-place Giants team that has won two of its last three games and lost contests by margins of 5, 7, 2, 3, 7 and 3 points this season. “No team in the NFL should ever be taken lightly,” Nagy said, “and this team, 3-8, I don’t care about the record. They’re in every single game. They got good players across the board. They’ve got good coaches, offense, defense, special teams.”