NFC North: 2013 NFL Week 13 Power Rankings

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

Preseason: 24 | Last Week: 11 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Here comes the Power Rankings slide. The Lions dropped two spots for the second straight week -- this time from No. 11 to No. 13 -- and if not for the hideousness of what is going on in the AFC, the Lions might be a lot further down the list. Simply, Detroit is not playing like a particularly good football team right now. The Lions are turning the ball over and continuing to give up big plays.

And right now, Detroit is playing its way right out of the NFC playoff picture. The Lions are still technically in the playoffs today because of the tiebreaker over Chicago. But the Lions aren't playing like a team that, if they make the playoffs, would have a long stay there. Maybe this is all that needs to be said about the NFC North this season: Despite the struggles, the Lions are still the top-ranked team in the division in this week's Power Rankings.
A weekly examination of the Packers’ ESPN.com Power Ranking.

Preseason: 5 | Last week: 15 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Packers left guard Josh Sitton said after Sunday’s 26-26 tie against the Minnesota Vikings that it felt like a loss. Our panel of voters agreed. The Packers continued their free fall in the rankings, dropping two more spots and into the bottom half of the league for the first time since they were ranked 24th in the final poll of the 2008 season.

With an 0-3-1 record since quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in the first quarter of the Nov. 4 loss to the Chicago Bears, the Packers have fallen from eighth in the rankings to 11th then 13th then 15th and now 17th. One of the six ESPN voters placed them way down in 24th.

In a sign of how weak the NFC North appears right now, no division team ranked in the top 12. The Lions were 13th and the Bears 14th.

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

Preseason: 17 | Last Week: 31 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Vikings moved up three spots this week in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings, after they left Lambeau Field on Sunday with something other than a loss for the first time since 2009. The Vikings blew a 23-7 lead in the fourth quarter and fell behind the Green Bay Packers in overtime, but came back to force a tie on Blair Walsh's field goal. Their last tie had come in the same stadium, almost 35 years ago to the day; the Vikings tied the Packers 10-10 on Nov. 26, 1978.

With five games left, three of them at home, the Vikings are hoping to scrape together a couple of wins. They won't face Jay Cutler this Sunday against the Chicago Bears, but backup Josh McCown has been playing well, and the other four teams the Vikings will face the rest of the way (Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Detroit) are all fighting for a playoff spot. That might be good news for Vikings fans rooting for a higher draft pick; Minnesota currently would pick fourth in the draft next spring, but two of the teams in front of the Vikings (Jacksonville and Houston) still play each other.

Don't expect a higher draft pick to be the goal of any Leslie Frazier-coached team, though. The Vikings coach still seems to have his players working hard, and has talked extensively about his only goal being to win as many games as possible. And with his future in jeopardy, Frazier's best play is probably to keep the team together and try to finish on a positive note. It's certainly not to secure a higher draft pick for his potential successor. The Vikings also have won just once in front of their home fans at the Metrodome this season, so you can expect they'll try to close the building down on a positive note, particularly in their two remaining division games.

Power Rankings: No. 14 Chicago Bears

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
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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 maintained their spot atop the division by default but fell four spots in the ESPN.com Power Rankings to No. 14, the club’s lowest spot since the start of the season.

Given the team’s continued struggles on defense, the injuries and the fact it hasn’t shown any evidence that things will improve, the Bears probably deserve to be in this spot. A road matchup at Minnesota on Dec. 1, followed by a Monday night game with the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 9, could result in a further dip if the team doesn’t find a way to stop the bleeding on defense.

Because of Detroit’s loss to Tampa Bay, the Bears still possess a legitimate chance to win the NFC North. But for the club to make the playoffs, that might need to be the Bears' route to the postseason because their conference record (3-5) is among the worst of the current wild-card contenders.

On a positive note, the Bears could be welcoming the return of quarterback Jay Cutler for the Monday night contest against the Cowboys. Already ruled out for Sunday, Cutler said he expects to be back in the lineup by that game. The club is still without linebacker Lance Briggs, and the statuses of defensive tackle Stephen Paea and running back Matt Forte for Sunday remain in question.

Elsewhere in the NFC North, the division-leading Lions dropped two spots to 13th in this week’s rankings, while the Green Bay Packers fell two spots to 17th. The Packers have fallen two slots in each of the last three weeks, with quarterback with Aaron Rodgers out. Green Bay was on a three-game skid before its 26-26 tie with the Minnesota Vikings, which rose three spots to No. 28.

The Bears received two 13th-place votes from the panelists, two for No. 14, one for No. 15 and one for No. 18.

Chicago’s struggling defense seemed to be showing improvement in the two outings going into Sunday’s loss to the Rams, but the unit took a major step back, and its inability to complement the club’s powerful offense will continue to cause problems. Offensively, the Bears continue to move the ball with relative ease, but against the Rams, they made game-changing mistakes such as Forte’s fumble on Chicago’s first play from scrimmage that led to a touchdown and a 14-0 deficit.

The Bears can’t expect to win games playing from behind, which is exactly what the team has done in each of the last two weeks.

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22