NFC North: 2013 NFL Week 12 Power Rankings

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

Preseason: 5 | Last Week: 13 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Three weeks ago, the Packers were 5-2, on top of the NFC North and at No. 8 in the Power Rankings. Then they lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone. What ensued was a three-game losing streak and a free fall in both the division and the Power Rankings.

One of the six voters on our panel thought so little of the Packers at this point that he placed them at No. 23 on his ballot. The other five voters had them between 14 and 16.

If there’s a glimmer of hope for the Packers, it’s that this Sunday they play host to the Minnesota Vikings, who are 2-8 and ranked No. 31. Oh yeah, and with each passing week they move closer to getting Rodgers back on the field.

As always, you can rank all 32 teams yourself.
A weekly examination of the Lions' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 24 | Last Week: 9 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

After the way Detroit lost on Sunday in Pittsburgh -- with every part of the Lions’ game failing in some form -- there was no way they were going to stay as a top-10 team. If anything, I thought Detroit might drop a little more in this week’s Power Rankings instead of the two spots it fell. Of course, that the Lions fell behind the Bears is also a little bit curious, especially since Detroit swept Chicago this season.

But this range, between ninth and 13th, is probably where Detroit will live the rest of the year. The Lions aren’t quite elite but are certainly better than a majority of teams in the NFL. The question will remain whether that is good enough to earn them a playoff spot six weeks from now. That is just how it is sometimes in the NFL. A week ago, Detroit appeared to be in a comfortable position for a playoff berth. Now the Lions look like they have to win the division to ensure that. Who knows what’ll happen next week?
A weekly examination of the Vikings' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 17 | Last Week: 30 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Vikings have only one spot further to fall in ESPN.com's Power Rankings, after they got thumped on the road against the Seattle Seahawks over the weekend and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their second win of the season to move up the rankings. The Vikings are now tied for the worst record in the NFC, and if the season ended today, they'd hold the second pick in the draft behind the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Once again, the Vikings will have to make a quarterback decision before Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers, after Christian Ponder threw interceptions on back-to-back drives in the 41-20 loss to Seattle. Josh Freeman could get his chance to start against the reeling Packers, or the Vikings could use Matt Cassel. They might even trot Ponder back out there -- coach Leslie Frazier hasn't ruled that possibility out yet. Whatever they do, there's not much on the line for the Vikings other than trying to sort out their QB situation and solve some of their many questions before the end of the 2013 season.

If you're the type who's into draft-pick positioning, the good news is the Vikings might have a tough time winning many games the rest of the season. They play only one team with a losing record the rest of the season, and that's a Dec. 8 road matchup against the 4-6 Ravens (who also happen to be the defending Super Bowl champions and are still in the AFC wild-card hunt). In fact, Sunday's game against Green Bay might be the Vikings' best chance at a win; they'll avoid familiar nemesis Aaron Rodgers and will face a Packers team that's lost three in a row, including two at home. The Vikings have won once at Lambeau Field since 2005, but Sunday might give them a chance to score a road win with Scott Tolzien, and not Rodgers, at quarterback.

Power Rankings: No. 10 Chicago Bears

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
12:15
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Bears’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 13 | Last Week: 11 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Despite attrition continuing to take a toll on the roster, the Chicago Bears put on a gritty showing in adverse weather conditions Sunday to best the Baltimore Ravens in overtime, which helped the club move up a spot in the ESPN.com Power Rankings from No. 11 to No. 10.

More importantly, the Bears seized a share of the division lead by virtue of Detroit’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chicago still needs another slip-up from the Lions against Tampa Bay on Sunday coupled with a win over St. Louis to take control of the NFC North.

With six games remaining, it’s there for the taking.

What bodes well for the future is the Bears have learned to play with the entire roster due to all the injuries in so many key spots. They’ve demonstrated they can get the job done without Jay Cutler, Charles Tillman or Lance Briggs in the lineup through a combination of strong coaching and several young players stepping up to fill the void. The Bears expect a few of the key contributors to return soon. So that, coupled with the strength of the depth gaining experience now, should be beneficial down the stretch.

Elsewhere in the division, the division-leading Lions dropped two spots to 11th in this week’s rankings, while the Green Bay Packers fell another two spots to 15th after a 27-13 loss to the No. 22-ranked Giants. The Packers have fallen two slots in each of the last two weeks, and the free fall could continue until the club gains stability at quarterback with Aaron Rodgers out. Green Bay is currently on a three-game skid.

Minnesota, meanwhile, dropped another spot from 30th to 31st after a 41-20 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Just two of the six panelists gave the Bears a top-10 vote, while two put in votes for No. 11 and two put the club at No. 12.

Chicago’s struggling defense continues to improve, which might be attributed to defensive coordinator Mel Tucker opting to orchestrate from the sideline instead of the coaches’ booth. Offensively, the Bears improved the rushing attack against the Ravens, and quarterback Josh McCown continues to perform efficiently. Even with Cutler out for another week, and all the injuries on defense, the Bears appear to be ascending.

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/4
Sunday, 9/7
Monday, 9/8