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Giants will spend final games searching for missing offense

Scoring continues to be up, up and away in the NFL, and the Giants continue to try, usually unsuccessfully, to keep up.

The league has never seen anything like it. When the Giants take the field early Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, there will have been a total of 8,502 points, 980 touchdowns and 625 touchdown passes scored in the league this season. All are the most in NFL history through 12 games.

The Giants certainly have contributed to this orgy of points and touchdowns, but not nearly enough, and it remains to be seen if they can add anything of significance to the offensive barrage as they confront the big, bad Bears — possessing a defense that includes former Giants first-round pick cornerback Prince Amukamara on a unit the old Monsters of the Midway would appreciate.

A team with Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. should be able to do some damage each week, but it has been a struggle for Eli Manning to navigate around an offensive line with too many moving parts and not nearly enough high-quality play. There was a two-week surge, producing 65 points and two victories, but a promising first half last week in Philadelphia gave way to a second-half meltdown in a 25-22 loss to the Eagles, dropping the Giants to 3-8 and solidifying their hold on last place in the NFC East.

It is not all on Manning, yet quarterbacks are always the focal point of everything that transpires. The 37-year old is not exactly wilting in winter, compiling a passer rating of 115.2 in the past three games, his numbers inflated by completing 72 percent of his passes and throwing for six touchdowns and only one interception.

“I do think of late he’s played much better than he did earlier in the year,’’ coach Pat Shurmur said.

Is it good enough? Manning’s 14 touchdown passes put him on pace for 20, which would be one more than he had last season and two more than his career-low of 18 in 2013. As the new front office evaluates everything in a dismal season, Manning’s ability to operate a high-octane attack and his inability to produce enough points are sure to be highly scrutinized.

“Much like defensive football, offensive football is all coordinated, and it starts up at the front,’’ Shurmur said. “I think we’ve done a better job up front blocking, whether it’s a run or a pass, and I think that contributes to the success of the quarterback when we choose to throw it. He’s had to throw the ball less, but he’s been more efficient doing it, and I think that’s a really good formula. We’re kind of stumbling on the formula here — not stumbling, but we’re getting to the things that are important for a team to help win games.’’

Is this a formula for success in today’s NFL, where points are aplenty? Twelve games into a failed season, the answer is no.

Marquee Matchup

Bears S Eddie Jackson vs. Giants QB Eli Manning

Eli Manning and Eddie Jackson
Eli Manning and Eddie JacksonGetty Images (2)

Warning: Do not challenge No. 39 on defense. Jackson, a second-year defensive back from Alabama, was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting Matthew Stafford on Thanksgiving and returning the turnover 41 yards for a touchdown. Jackson is also the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. Jackson has four interceptions this season, and his five defensive touchdowns is the most by a player in his first two years since 1989. Manning has thrown just seven interceptions and is on pace for a career-low 10. He has to watch out for Jackson.

“I don’t think he gambles a lot,’’ Manning said. “He has good ball skills. He does a good job of breaking on things when he sees the opportunity. He’s around the right spot.’’

Four Downs

Run and done: Ask any defensive coach or player what the priority is that week and the answer is almost always the same: Stop the run. It is a basic principle, but the Giants cannot do it with any regularity. The Eagles are not a significant threat on the ground, yet last week they romped for 127 yards on the Giants. It was the fourth consecutive game and the ninth time in 11 games this season the opponent has amassed more than 100 rushing yards. Sure enough, after seven games the Giants traded their best run-stuffer, Damon “Snacks’’ Harrison, to the Lions. Still, allowing 125.5 yards is a sign of bad defense and the Giants are 26th in the league at it.

“I haven’t seen where we have an effort problem, I really haven’t,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. “I’ve just seen where at times in critical situations, we’re trying to press, and I can’t press as a play caller and we can’t press as a defense. Some of that is youth at positions. Some of that is just maybe a vet trying to do too much, and we just can’t try to press.’’

Make an impression: The Giants know their season will end Dec. 30. They are out of any semblance of contention and were never really ever in any semblance of contention. The coaching staff and front office will be paying close attention these last five games as to which players continue to grind and which ease off the gas.

“It’s easy,’’ said cornerback B.W. Webb, who has made a positive statement with his competitive nature. “People outside might think it’s hard, but everybody in here, we’re playing for families. People are playing for each other. People are playing for an opportunity to come back and play here next year, or another team wherever it is. It’s what you signed up to do. We’re playing for each other. It’s no drop-off on that.’’

Full-time job: Saquon Barkley did not get the ball enough in the second half last week. We get it. What cannot be overlooked, though, is the Giants are putting a huge workload on the youngest player on the roster. Barkley’s 242 touches this season is the third-highest in the league. He is built like a tank, but this does not mean he is impervious to getting worn down. Not that he is worried.

“I think it’s perfectly fine,’’ Barkley said. “With me, with the workload and my mindset, and I think I’ve said this multiple times, it’s whatever it takes. Obviously, you want to be out there, you want to continue working. There’s situations where you got to grind it out if you’re tired.’’

No time to waste: The Giants did not need to use his name this week, referring to Khalil Mack mostly as “fifty-two.’’ Everyone knew the identity of the player associated with the number. Mack has eight sacks and is tied for the NFL lead with five forced fumbles. It is not only up to tackles Nate Solder (mostly) and Chad Wheeler (part of the time) to prevent Mack from wrecking the game and pulverizing Manning. Everything on offense must be accelerated.

“To be honest, when you’re playing receiver, the race isn’t between you and the [defensive back],’’ Odell Beckham Jr. said. “It’s always between you and the D-linemen. You do need to be sharper, and you do need to be there on time. If not, getting open just a hair second earlier, but making sure you’re at where you’re supposed to be at. We got a tough task on our hand. We got to deal with 52 and the rest of those guys.’’

Paul’s Pick

Yes, Chase Daniel starts at quarterback in place of injured Mitchell Trubisky. Will it matter much? Daniel won’t need to manufacture a whole lot of points, given the mismatch of the Bears’ defense vs. the Giants’ offense. That could get ugly. Get ready for a bunch of Eli Manning check-downs and numerous Riley Dixon punts.

Bears 23, Giants 13

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