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Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Power Rankings: No. 13 Chicago Bears

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

A weekly examination of the Bears' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 13 | Last Week: 13 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Chicago Bears remained at No. 13 in the ESPN.com Power Rankings after a 38-31 win on Sunday over the Cleveland Browns.

Although the Bears didn’t move in the rankings, the club hopped up a spot where it counts the most: the NFC North standings. Chicago now sits atop the division after Detroit’s 18-16 loss to Baltimore, meaning the Bears now control their own postseason destiny.

That development comes at a time when the Bears appear poised to play some of their best football.

Jay Cutler returned to lead an offense that was already rolling Sunday at Cleveland, and the defense is starting to show signs of life, in part because defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff is finally beginning to settle in along with rookie linebackers Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene, while defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is beginning to catch a groove as a playcaller.

In back-to-back outings, the Bears have put up more than 400 yards of offense, and the defense has shut down two of the game’s best receivers over the same span. (The defense should also be getting back veteran linebacker Lance Briggs in time for Sunday's matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.)

As we said last week, for a good portion of the season, the Lions have helped along the Bears by slipping in what appeared to be winnable games. That’s exactly what the Lions did Monday night in falling to the Ravens, while the Bears took care of business against the Browns. Chicago needs to keep up the momentum Sunday night at Philadelphia.

Elsewhere in the division, the Lions dropped five spots to No. 17, while the Packers -- now in second place in the NFC North -- moved up two spots to 16th. The Minnesota Vikings, meanwhile, jumped up four spots from No. 27 to 23rd.

The Bears received one 11th-place vote, two for 12th, one for 14th and two for 15th.

Chicago closes out back-to-back road games Sunday at Philadelphia before hosting the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field for the regular-season finale.