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.