- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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From our vantage point, this ranking seems pretty fair. Besides that, the Bears typically perform better when out of the national spotlight.
Elsewhere around the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers moved from third to the top spot, but face a difficult Week 1 debut against the fourth-ranked San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. The Detroit Lions, meanwhile, fell three spots to ninth, while the Minnesota Vikings bring up the rear in the division at No. 30, up a spot from 31st.
Aside from protection issues brought on, in part because of an antiquated scheme employed by former offensive coordinator Mike Martz, nothing really affected Cutler’s performance. Prior to suffering a season-ending injury, Cutler appeared to be well on the way to a strong 2011 campaign. With the new scheme, emphasis on pass protection and a bevy of weapons at his disposal, Cutler should fare even better in 2012.
For those curious, our Power Rankings voters included ESPN.com’s John Clayton and Ashley Fox, along with Graziano, AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley, and NFC West blogger Mike Sando.
Finally, it’s time to play real football. So stay tuned, these rankings are sure to change quite a bit as the season progresses.