At 0-5, the New York Giants haven't just been bad. They have been historically bad. They are only the third team in NFL history to give up more than 30 points in their first five games. No team has ever given up 30-plus in six straight.
It's hard to pick one area of improvement for New York because this has been a full team meltdown. The pass rush has disappeared. The running game has been the worst in the league, and it will be without David Wilson against the Chicago Bears. Eli Manning has been sensing pressure before it arrives, and he's forced passes in late-game situations. The Giants wildly have been a turnover-prone team, with 20 giveaways.
That doesn't mean winning Thursday night's game in Chicago will be an impossible task. The Bears have lost two straight games and face their own issues. Two of Chicago's three wins have come in the waning moments.
Here's how the Giants call pull off the upset:
1. New York's offensive line has improved. Injuries and inexperience have combined to ravage the unit, which hasn't given the offense a chance to operate some weeks. Things have stabilized of late, and this matchup sets up well for them. (Relatively.)
The Bears' pass rush has been inconsistent at best. Julius Peppers hasn't been what he once was, and he's been forced to play inside more often. Chicago misses defensive tackle Henry Melton badly, and now Melton's backup, Nate Collins, is out for the season.
Chicago's opponents have had all day to throw the last two weeks. That's what Eli needs.
2. The Giants stubbornly haven't adjusted their vertical passing game much because they don't have great tight end or backfield options who can catch the ball. Wide receiver Rueben Randle has been making more plays of late, but he's not a great option over the middle.
3. Chicago's defense has been solid this season, but it hasn't been as dominant as Lovie Smith's group used to be. The current defensive unit relies too much on turnovers, having forced at least three turnovers per week in the first four games. That's not a sustainable pace. The New Orleans Saints played keepaway in Week 5 and didn't have one turnover.
4. Chicago's offensive line has been better this season, but it's beatable. New Orleans did a great job creating pressure by sending extra rushers last week. Jay Cutler and his young offensive line had trouble knowing and communicating where the pressure was coming from.
The Giants need to scheme to create pressure because their down four lineman haven't been getting down. Justin Tuck hasn't been a difference-maker for a few seasons. Jason Pierre-Paul has been one of the NFL's most disappointing players thus far; he hasn't been the same since returning from back surgery. I saw him getting blocked 10 yards out of the play last week by Eagles tight end Brent Celek. It was not a pretty moment.
5. Of course, sending extra pressure will open up one-on-one matchups for Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. There hasn't been a better duo in the league at snatching balls out of the air in contested situations. Jeffery has been the better deep threat to this point, but expect Marshall to receive multiple targets after a few quiet weeks.
Cutler has thrown the ball with a better rhythm this season. He hasn't taken as many random chances under new coach Marc Trestman. Cutler's ugly game against the Detroit Lions was more about bad throws, not bad decisions.
The Giants' secondary will have to win with the ball in the air Thursday night. It won't be easy.