- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Bears’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 13 | Last Week: 10 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Chicago Bears fell back three spots in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings from No. 10 to 13 after their 45-41 loss on Sunday to the Washington Redskins, and could find themselves in that slot or lower for at least the next month with quarterback Jay Cutler out due to a torn groin muscle.
A slow start on offense combined with horrid play on defense doomed the Bears to their third loss in four games, and the outlook doesn’t get much brighter with the team facing the Green Bay Packers coming off the bye week on "Monday Night Football," followed by back-to-back outings against the Lions and Ravens. Intensifying the ruggedness of the upcoming schedule is the fact that the club’s struggling defense will be without veteran linebacker Lance Briggs for at least the next six weeks.
Counting nickel corner Kelvin Hayden, the Bears have now lost five key contributors from the defense.
Elsewhere in the division, Green Bay remained at ninth in the Power Rankings after its 31-13 win over the Cleveland Browns, while the Lions stay at No. 11 after coming undone in the final minute in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Minnesota dropped a spot to 30th after quarterback Josh Freeman underwhelmed in his debut as the starter in the Vikings' loss to the New York Giants, who secured their first victory of the season.
Chicago’s fall to No. 13 is certainly deserved. The highest vote the Bears received was No. 11 with the rest of the panelists voting to move the team from 12th through 14. While the week off gives the Bears extra prep time for the Packers and an opportunity to heal some nagging injuries, the losses of Cutler and Briggs will be difficult to overcome. And remember, the Bears will have to do that for at least the next three games without Cutler, and at least five without Briggs.