NFC North: 2013 NFL Week 17 Power Rankings

A weekly examination of the Vikings' Power Ranking:

Preseason: 17 | Last Week: 23 | Power Ranking since 2002

The Minnesota Vikings slipped two spots in ESPN's Power Rankings after a 42-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, as the rankings start to look more and more like the current NFL draft standings. The Vikings are eight spots from the bottom and would currently have the eighth pick in the draft if the season ended today.

They have a chance to move as high as third if they lose to the Detroit Lions and the five teams that are a half-game in front of them all win on Sunday, but the likelihood is the Vikings will be picking somewhere in the back half of the top 10. They wouldn't pick any lower in the draft than eighth; all but eight teams in the league have at least six wins, so the Vikings wouldn't catch anyone in the standings with a win on Sunday.

It wouldn't be a big surprise if the Vikings did beat the Lions on Sunday, either. They'll be closing down the Metrodome, playing what could be their final game for well-respected coach Leslie Frazier, and facing a Detroit team that has lost five of six. It will be the Vikings' last chance to close a disappointing season on a high note.
A weekly examination of the Lions' Power Ranking:

Preseason: 24 | Last Week: 17 | Power Ranking since 2002

The fall to preseason expectations for the Detroit Lions is almost complete. After reaching as high as No. 9 in Week 11, the Lions have cascaded down the rankings as fast as their record plummeted from one potentially representing a divisional champion to a team likely hunting for a new coach a week from now.

Now for the most amazing part -- even at No. 20, this is the second-highest the Lions have been in the power rankings this late in the season since 2002. The only time Detroit was higher was during its playoff season in 2011, when the Lions were seventh. That, right there, shows the overall struggles of this franchise since the turn of the century.

Detroit has actually dropped eight spots in the past two weeks, going from 12th in Week 15 to 20th entering the final week of the season.
A weekly examination of the Packers’ Power Ranking.

Preseason: 5 | Last week: 16 | Power Ranking since 2002

Who could have imagined the Packers would be way down in the bottom half of the rankings heading into Week 17? Then again, who could have imagined the kind of season they have experienced?

As coach Mike McCarthy said this week, it has been a wild ride. Consider all that has happened: a 1-2 start followed by a four-game winning streak, followed by quarterback Aaron Rodgers' broken collarbone, followed by two months of guessing when he will return -- if at all this season.

Despite all that, they will play for the NFC North title -- with or without Rodgers -- on Sunday against the host Chicago Bears. It’s a division that seemingly no one deserves to win. Twelve teams make the playoffs in the NFL, but the NFC North doesn’t have a team in the top 12 in the rankings. The Bears are closest at No. 13. One voter actually had the Packers ranked ahead of the Bears this week.

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

Preseason: 13 | Last Week: 13 | Power Ranking since 2002

The Chicago Bears stayed at 13th in the Power Rankings after suffering a 54-11 loss on Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles, which qualified as one of the worst losses in franchise history.

Although the Bears didn’t move in the rankings, they should have after their performance against the Eagles. Sure, Chicago leads the division, but its first-place standing is basically by default due to losses by the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.

The situation sets up a showdown Sunday between the Bears and the Packers at Soldier Field that will decide the NFC North winner and a postseason spot. But based on the way those teams have performed in recent weeks, the winner of Sunday’s game isn’t likely to stay in the playoffs for very long.

Against the Eagles, Chicago’s pitiful run defense reared its ugly head again as the Bears gave up 291 yards on the ground. The team’s usually reliable offense fared just as badly, with the revamped protection allowing quarterback Jay Cutler to absorb five sacks as the group scored just 11 points (it entered the contest averaging 29 per game). Bears coach Marc Trestman said they’ll burn the tape from that shellacking, forget about the debacle and focus on the Packers, which is probably the best course of action at this point.

Going into Sunday’s game, the Bears had racked up more than 400 yards of offense in back-to-back games, and the defense was showing signs it could at least rise to the level of mediocrity. But the horrid showing at Philadelphia erased all of that. The No. 13 spot in the Power Rankings is a gift.

Elsewhere in the division, the Lions, predictably, fell three spots to 20th, while the Packers dropped a spot to 17th. The Minnesota Vikings fell one spot to 24th.

The Bears had three votes for the No. 13 spot, two for 14th and one for No. 16.