NFC North: 2013 NFL Week 6 Power Rankings

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

Preseason: 24 | Last Week: 10 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

This should not be a surprise. Detroit lost, fairly handily, to Green Bay on Sunday, 22-9. The Calvin Johnson-less offense did not look good and the defense had some breakdowns in the second half on big plays. But when healthy, this is still a good football team. The defense, despite Sunday's struggles, is still second best in the league on third downs and has a very talented front seven. Bill Bentley may have had his best game of the season, including breaking up a touchdown pass in the first half.

The 10-12 region might be where Detroit resides for most of the season. They are a borderline playoff team that should be in the conversation for a berth the rest of the way. They are the No. 6 NFC team in the Power Rankings, but to give you an idea of how difficult the division is, they are No. 3 in the NFC North, just behind No. 10 Chicago and No. 11 Green Bay. It may just be the toughest division in football.
A weekly examination of the Packers' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 5 | Last Week: 12 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Packers’ 22-9 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Lambeau Field not only tightened things up in the NFC North, where only a half a game separates Green Bay (2-2) from the Chicago Bears (3-2) and Lions (3-2), but it also brought that trio closer together in the ESPN Power Rankings. The Bears, Packers and Lions checked in this week at Nos. 10, 11 and 12, respectively.

In addition to moving up one spot in the overall rankings, the Packers also moved up one spot among NFC teams, from sixth to fifth.

Both of the teams that beat the Packers this season remain in the top 10 with the San Francisco 49ers at No. 7 and the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 8. The Packers' victories have come over the Lions and the No. 27 Redskins, and they have a chance to make a statement this Sunday if they can get their first road win of the season, at the No. 9 Baltimore Ravens.

The panel of voters ranked the Packers anywhere from seventh to 14th.

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

Preseason: 17 | Last Week: 24 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Vikings were off last week, so their four-spot drop in the rankings is due at least partially to some of the teams behind them (the Eagles, Raiders and Rams) winning in Week 5. But after Minnesota won its first game of the season on Sept. 29 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in London, it lurched into a quarterback controversy, with Matt Cassel leading the Vikings to the win in Christian Ponder's absence and the team signing Josh Freeman to a one-year deal this week. Figuring out who's under center will be the primary topic for Minnesota during the next few weeks, as the Vikings try to determine first whether Ponder or Cassel should start on Sunday and then how soon -- and how much -- Freeman factors into the situation.

If the Vikings can figure things out, the next few weeks present a ripe opportunity to improve their record and get back into the playoff race. They face the 1-3 Carolina Panthers at home on Sunday, before heading to New York for a "Monday Night Football" date with the 0-5 Giants. Then comes a Sunday night matchup with the Green Bay Packers, who will be without linebacker Clay Matthews. By the time the Vikings go to Dallas on Nov. 3, they will either have turned their season around or missed possibly their best opportunity to do so, turning the chief aim of their season into solving their quarterback puzzle for the future.
A weekly examination of the Bears’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 13 | Last Week: 9 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The panelists voting for ESPN.com’s Power Rankings apparently haven’t lost faith in the Chicago Bears even though the team has lost consecutive games.

After falling 26-18 to the New Orleans Saints (No. 2) on Sunday, the Bears dropped only one spot from ninth to No. 10, and still rank as tops in the NFC North, with the Green Bay Packers lurking at No. 11 and the Detroit Lions sitting at 12th.

The Minnesota Vikings, meanwhile, check in at 28th.

At this point, it’s debatable whether Chicago deserves to stay in the top 10, but for the club to remain competitive in two consecutive defeats despite a combined five turnovers is something of a feat. Through the first five contests -- even the first three victories -- the Bears still haven’t played a complete game.

The Bears show signs of improvement, which gives them the look of an ascending team instead of one that has reached its peak. So that’s encouraging.

Of the six ESPN.com panelists, four voted the Bears out of the top 10 (three 11th-place votes and one for 10th), while two gave the team eighth- and ninth-place votes, respectively.

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 10/2
Sunday, 10/5