It’s the crossroads of the preseason with the third preseason game upon us. In what is typically called the dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Bears get the task of visiting the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in a nationally televised game on CBS. For all the preseason hype and talk about championships and Super Bowl, the Bears will get to gauge themselves against the best.
To help us prepare for this epic battle, at least as epic as preseason games go, we’ve enlisted the help of Joe Tufaro, the editor of GMen HQ to answer our 5 Questions. Here are my questions and Joe’s answers.
1. The NFC East looks to be a pretty competitive division with the “Dream Team” Eagles, the always-in-the-preseason Super Bowl contender Cowboys and the up-and-coming Washington Redskins with RGIII. In the meantime, you’ve got the Super Bowl champion Giants, who sort of fly under the radar. How do you see the division shaking out? Who is best equipped to challenge the Giants in 2012?
The Giants without a doubt play in the most competitive division, proven further last season when the Giants defeated the Cowboys twice, split with the Eagles and lost two to Washington. We never count on more than a split in the division standings. The Eagles have one main problem, and that is Mike Vick and his health. The Cowboys have no depth at receiver or running back, and Jason Witten will need to be watched all year. The Redskins will have some stability at least at QB, with a very good defense, but they aren’t quite equipped to make a run at the top yet in my opinion. As we know pre-season predictions are a waste of time, because injuries determine everything in the NFL.
2. Talk a little bit for our fantasy football readers out there. Who are Giants players to be on the lookout for as strong fantasy players this season? Is Hakeem Nicks healthy enough to consider as a top WR? Is Victor Cruz for real?
Nicks is completely healthy, and was lucky to have gotten hurt so early. Cruz had 5 catches for 51 yards in the first half against the Jets, without Hakeem playing the other side. They are both the real deal and worth taking high in any fantasy draft.
3. With two Super Bowl rings, has Eli surpassed big brother Peyton as the best Manning quarterback in the NFL right now?
He is the best Manning in the game right now, until he isn’t. I am excited to see Peyton with a real running game and a pretty solid defense in Denver. The talk will begin in or around week 10 about an all Manning Super Bowl in their home town of New Orleans. ESPN won’t be able to resist that story line for long.
4. What’s the take in New York on the whole JPP cold tub incident? Did those back spasms flare up while carrying Prince Amukamara to the tub or after?
JPP has had back spams and issues since his first day with the Giants. The tub incident actually took place about a month ago, but I’m sure you didn’t read that part anywhere in the awful coverage it has received. The only disappointment was that a private team issue got aired in a public forum opening it up to everyone’s opinion.
5. Who are a couple of under-the-radar Giants players that Bears fans should look out for on Friday night?
Look for the receivers who are fighting for jobs to make an impression. Reuben Randle, Ramses Barden, Jerrell Jernigan in particular. Also look for the rotation at return man to see if we can find ourselves a threat. Also first round pick RB David Wilson will get some work with the starters this week.
BONUS QUESTION – I know it’s silly to predict a final score in a preseason game, but since the starters should go the first half, please predict the halftime score.
JPP is resting, Ahmad Bradshaw will not see a lot of action, and the Giants will work on their running game relenlessly no matter the down, distance, or score. I expect it to be about 13-10 at the half…either way.