Times must be tough in the Manning household. Peyton Manning has led the Broncos to an undefeated record and set quarterback records while hearing chants of “MVP.” Meanwhile, NY Giants quarterback Eli Manning has struggled as mightily as his older brother has flourished, with the Giants owning a dubious 0-5 record and last place in the NFC East. Tonight, Eli travels with the Giants to Soldier Field to take on the 3-2 Chicago Bears, hungry for their first win of the season. The game is televised live on ESPN, but if you can’t watch it on your HDTV, you can watch Thursday Night Football online free streaming at the links below.
The Chicago Bears are favored over the NY Giants this Thursday, and the betting line of “Bears by 8″ can’t be a feel-good story for Eli Manning and the Giants. The Bears rank higher than the Giants in every major statistical category but passing, which is ironic considering people are now calling Eli Manning’s leadership into question. Chicago has the 11th-ranked Offense in the NFL (compared to 20th by the Giants), 20th in Defense (vs. 26th), 12th in Passing (vs. 10th) and 16th in Rushing (vs. 32nd). The passing statistic is perhaps most telling, because whereas Bears QB Jay Cutler has more touchdowns than Giants QB Manning, Manning has passed for almost 120 more yards this season.
The big difference is the rushing game, where the Bears average more than 50 yards more per game than the Giants. ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson says Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall “will see the ball early and often” against the Giants, mostly because the Giants D ranks 26th overall and 22nd in pass defense. Yet the Bears ground game should still take off as you watch Thursday Night Football online streaming. The last time these two teams played, in 2010, Bears QB Cutler was sacked an NFL record nine times in the first half alone. You think Cutler won’t remember that and look to hand the ball to running back Matt Forte, who’s averaging 4.6 yards per carry? Especially with injuries to key players like Henry Melton, Nate Collins and Stephen Paea, whose injuries made the Bears vulnerable to the run?
Meanwhile, the Giants will live and die tonight by the air, as QB Eli Manning really has no other options. The Giants have the worst rushing offense in the NFL and lost starting running back David Wilson to a neck injury. Eli Manning has thrown an NFL leading 12 interceptions this season, but he’s bound to turn it around sometime, and tonight’s game against the Bears could be that night. The Bears have two key defenders listed as game time decisions, linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman. That should help Manning’s confidence as he looks to pass while decreasing his chance of tossing another pesky interception.
As ESPN Thursday night games go, the Giants vs the Bears isn’t a marquee matchup, even with two major media markets paying attention. The only time the Giants have ever started 0-6 was 1976, when they went 0-9 to start the NFL season, so Eli Manning and Co. will be motivated. But motivation on an 0-5 team is a relative thing, and right about now, the Giants are focused more on what life would be like with Eli’s older “relative” Peyton at the helm. The mind wanders, you know, and whether the Giants wander into 0-6 territory while their brains lead them will be one thing to watch for as you watch Thursday Night Football online or on ESPN tonight.
Kickoff for tonight’s ESPN Thursday Night Football game is scheduled for 8:25 Eastern / 5:25 Pacific. It’s best to catch the game live on an HDTV, but you can also watch Thursday Night Football online streaming via the Xbox 360 ESPN app, at the links above, or on the NFL Network’s site. It’s also available online live via DirecTV if you have their NFL Sunday Ticket add-on package.