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Bears vs. Giants preview: 5 things to watch in the Week 17 matchup

The Bears and New York Giants will play for the fourth consecutive year when they meet Sunday at Soldier Field. That is a scheduling oddity for two teams in different divisions.

The Bears have won two of the previous three. They lost an overtime game in 2018 with backup Chase Daniel filling in at quarterback. The Bears won one-possession games in 2019 and 2020.

This week’s game will feature two losing teams – the Bears at 5-10, the Giants at 4-11 – that have already been eliminated from playoff contention. Both Bears head coach Matt Nagy and Giants head coach Joe Judge are facing uncertain futures.

Here’s what to watch for in Sunday’s game.

1. Who is playing QB?

The Bears came into the week not knowing who would be the starting quarterback. Justin Fields missed last week’s game with an ankle injury, while Andy Dalton sat out with a groin injury. They, along with Nick Foles, were all participants in practice this week, though Fields has been limited by his ankle.

Matt Nagy announced Friday that Dalton will start and Foles will serve as the backup. Fields is questionable due to his ankle injury.

In New York, Jake Fromm made his first career start last week and it went poorly in a 34-10 loss to the Eagles. Judge benched Fromm in the third quarter and finished the game with Mike Glennon at QB. Starter Daniel Jones is on injured reserve with a neck injury.

Judge said Friday that both quarterbacks will see playing time Sunday. Can either Giants quarterback put the ball in the hands of his playmakers? Neither did last week.

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn tries to shed a block by Minnesota Vikings tight end Luke Stocker during their game Dec. 20, 2021, in Chicago.

Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn tries to shed a block by Minnesota Vikings tight end Luke Stocker on Dec. 20 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski/)

2. Robert Quinn’s pursuit of Richard Dent’s record

Outside linebacker Robert Quinn is half a sack shy of tying the Bears’ single-season sack record of 17.5 set by Richard Dent in 1984. With 17 sacks on the season, Quinn has already performed at a historic level, tying Dent for the second-best sack season in Bears history (Dent also had 17 in 1985).

Quinn has two games to record one sack and set the new team record. In doing so, he would also surpass 100 sacks for his career. Additionally, he trails Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt by half a sack for the NFL lead. No Bears player has led the league in sacks since Dent in 1985.

This will be one of the great storylines to watch these final two weeks.

3. Mooney’s pursuit of 1,000 yards

With two games remaining, Bears second-year receiver Darnell Mooney has 62 receptions for 860 yards and three touchdowns. He has three games this season with 120 receiving yards or more.

With two more good games, Mooney could surpass 1,000 receiving yards on the season. That has happened only 17 times in Bears history, most recently with Allen Robinson in 2019 and 2020.

“I would have to say [I’m] more of a leader,” Mooney said this week when asked how he has grown this season. “Being more vocal, and then just trying to be as best of a playmaker I can for the team and give a spark whenever they’re needed and being there on third downs when they’re needed.”

Chicago Bears wide receiver Dazz Newsome plays against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of a preseason game Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn.

Bears wide receiver Dazz Newsome plays against the Tennessee Titans in a preseason game on Aug. 28 in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne/)

4. Keep an eye on the Bears’ young talent

Several veteran players will probably be playing their final games in navy and orange over the next two weeks. When watching this game with an eye toward the future, look for the Bears’ young talent.

Some of these guys will play more than others, but key names to watch are offensive tackles Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins, running back Khalil Herbert, receiver Dazz Newsome, cornerbacks Thomas Graham and Kindle Vildor and outside linebacker Trevis Gipson, among others.

Can any of these players carve out a role over the final two weeks?

5. Big day for the defense?

The Giants offense has turned the ball over nine times in the past four games. That included four turnovers against the Cowboys in Week 15 and two against the Eagles last week.

The Bears should have their full secondary back, bringing the defense closer to full strength than it has been in weeks. Neither Giants quarterback instills much fear, and the Bears defense should be licking its chops.

The Bears rank 30th in the NFL with only 12 takeaways this season. They have six interceptions and three of those came against Joe Burrow in Week 2. Look for those numbers to rise this week.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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