Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Power Rankings: No. 15 Chicago Bears
By Michael C. Wright
A weekly examination of the Bears' ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 13 | Last Week: 13 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Chicago Bears dropped the regular-season finale at home to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday and fell two spots in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings to No. 15.
Coming off one of their worst losses in franchise history, the Bears put forth a valiant effort against the Packers and held a two-point lead with less than a minute to play. Then, on fourth down with 46 seconds remaining, Aaron Rodgers shut the Bears out of the postseason with a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb.
Chicago’s No. 15 final ranking might seem a tad low, but it's right about where it needs to be. Because of a horrid defense, the Bears lacked consistency on a game-to-game basis. But at this point, the Bears appear to be a team trending up, not down, especially if the personnel department finds a way to upgrade the talent on defense.
Coming off a 2012 campaign in which the defense ranked No. 5 overall and in the top 10 against the run and the pass, the Bears gave up the most rushing yards (2,583) and points (478) in franchise history. Injuries played a significant role in the decline.
Our initial prediction for the Bears was 8-8, and many wondered why it could be so low for a team coming off a 10-6 season. A new coaching staff, new players and new schemes aren’t easy for teams to adjust to, and the initial prediction didn't even account for the defense's falling so hard in 2013. So the Bears performed slightly above average considering all the adversity they faced.
Elsewhere in the division, the Lions dropped a spot to 21st after their season-ending implosion that culminated in the firing of Jim Schwartz. The Minnesota Vikings, who fired coach Leslie Frazier, moved up one spot to No. 24, and the Packers moved up four slots to 13th.
The Bears received three votes for No. 14, one each for 16th, 17th and 18th.