- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Bears' ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 13 | Last Week: 14 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Chicago Bears fell back a spot during the idle portion of their schedule last week, but made a significant jump in the latest ESPN.com Power Rankings from 14th to No. 9 as the collarbone injury to Aaron Rodgers overshadowed virtuoso performances by coach Marc Trestman and backup quarterback Josh McCown in the team’s 27-20 win over the Packers.
Obviously, concerns over injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs affected the team’s ranking last week. But the Bears alleviated some of those with McCown proving he’s capable of running the offense, not to mention a resurgent five-sack performance from the club’s banged-up defensive line, which could be better in the coming weeks if new addition Jay Ratliff can make an impact when he’s inserted into the lineup.
The top three teams in the log jammed NFC North occupy ninth, 10th, and 11th in the Power Rankings with the Bears, Lions and Packers holding those spots. The Lions stood pat at No. 10 from last week’s rankings, while the Packers fell three spots due to the home loss to the Bears, coupled with concerns about Rodgers’ availability in the coming weeks.
Five of the six panelists gave the Bears top-10 votes (three votes for ninth, and two for 10th), with one giving the club an 11th-place vote.
The Bears still show some vulnerability on defense, especially against the run. But the front four’s pass-rushing performance against the Packers and the potential impact of inserting Ratliff in the next few weeks gives the team optimism. On offense, Cutler is expected to return for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, but the Bears are plenty confident in McCown’s ability to get it done if they need to start him another week.