A weekly examination of the Bears’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 13 | Last Week: 9 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Chicago Bears dropped two spots in the ESPN.com Power Rankings from ninth to No. 11 after a 21-19 loss at Soldier Field on Sunday that significantly hurt the team’s prospects in the NFC playoff picture.
In addition, the Bears lost quarterback Jay Cutler indefinitely, and on Monday the club placed cornerback Charles Tillman on injured reserve with the designation to return. Although those injuries could turn out to be major blows, the Bears provided at least a sliver of hope they can get through them with their performance in Sunday’s loss.
Detroit entered the game ranked No. 6 in scoring, yet the Bears held the Lions to six points below their 27.1-point average, and limited their No. 2 passing offense to nearly 100 yards fewer than their average, in addition to forcing a turnover. On offense, with Cutler limited due to a high ankle sprain, the Bears finished with two 100-yard receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.
With a backup quarterback starting this week in Josh McCown, the Bears must now win five of their final seven for a legitimate shot at advancing to the postseason, and four of those games come on the road.
Elsewhere in the division, the Lions moved up two spots from 11th to ninth in this week’s rankings, while the Green Bay Packers fell from No. 11 to 13th after a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Packers could fall even further in the coming weeks as they continue to play without Aaron Rodgers, who suffered a broken collarbone in a Nov. 4 loss to the Bears.
Minnesota, meanwhile, stayed at No. 30 despite their win over the Washington Redskins.
Four of the six panelists gave the Bears 11th-place votes, while two put in votes for No. 12 and No. 13.
The team’s struggling defense has shown signs of life in the past two outings, but obviously it will be difficult to fill the void left by Tillman’s absence. Offensively, the Bears need to shore up a rushing attack that averaged just 1.9 yards per attempt against the Lions. Given some of the issues the team faces, its standing at No. 11 seems a tad generous.