The NFC North went 3-1 again this week, with the freefalling Vikings losing to the Seahawks 30-20. The Packers beat the Cardinals to move to 6-3 and claim sole possession of second place in the North, but lost Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson, Bryan Bulaga, and Randall Cobb in the process. If anyone needed a bye this week, its the Green Bay Packers. The Lions finally won a game before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, taking down everyone's favorite whipping boy the Jaguars to move to .500 (and half a game out of third place). The Bears... you know what they did, scoring the most points in a game since 1980 to stay a game behind the Atlanta Falcons for best record in the NFC. Let's see where the beautiful minds have the NFC North in rankings from around the web.
|Bears (7-1)||3 (4)||2 (3)||3 (5)||3 (4)||3 (4)||3 (3)||6 (5)|
|Packers (6-3)||7 (7)||5 (7)||6 (6)||5 (6)||5 (6)||8 (8)||3 (6)|
|Vikings (5-4)||13 (11)||18 (13)||16 (11)||16 (13)||15 (12)||15 (14)||17 (13)|
|Lions (4-4)||16 (19)||12 (14)||14 (17)||14 (16)||12 (18)||10 (12)||16 (15)|
Our five opinion-based (or subjective, if you like big-ish words) power rankings each bumped the Bears up a notch after their shellacking of the Titans ("Wrath of the Bears" says I). With the Falcons firmly entrenched as the top team in each subjective poll, the Bears and Texans make up the #2 and #3 teams, so I guess someone's going to take a tumble from the top after Sunday night. SB Nation reminded us that "no team has scored more than 23 points on (the Bears) this season," while Yahoo! and ESPN both decried the greatness of the defense while providing a subtle jab at the offense. NFL.com made up for it, though, with some Bear-related bravado:
The Packers got a small bump in three of the polls but are a top-7 team heading into their bye week. The ranking of the Vikings and Lions is interesting, as Minnesota has a half-game lead on Detroit, but are the lower-ranked team in four of the five polls. Having your QB throw for less than a hundred yards for the second time this season (not to mention losing three of four games) can do that to you. Next week's showdown in Minnesota will prove whether the Lions or the Vikings have a realistic shot at a playoff spot.
The DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Over Average) rankings compiled by Football Outsiders has a totally different spin on things, as they have a top three of: 49ers, Patriots, and Packers. The Bears actually dropped a spot this week, while the Packers climbed three spots. The reasoning behind the Bears ranking:
Our third seven-win team, Chicago, is about average historically for a team with their record, but of course they are quite imbalanced. They rank first in the league in defense and special teams, but 25th on offense. The Bears have moved up from the fifth-best defense in DVOA history to the fourth-best... in our stats, the Bears aren't getting as much credit for all those defensive touchdowns, and they still have a historically great defense.
And Football Outsiders gives some good advice for Bears fans enduring comments about the ease of their first half schedule (27-39 win-loss record against) and the difficulty of the upcoming schedule (42-27 win-loss record against):
Ignore anyone who argues that the Bears are feasting on easy opponents, by the way. They've played a very easy schedule of opposing defenses, but an average schedule of opposing offenses.
*Update: The Aikman Efficiency Ratings are now up and included above. The Texans claim the top spot after being #2 to the Patriots last week. The Bears and Packers remain at three and eight, respectively, while the Vikings drop one spot and the Lions move up two. The Bears offense is ranked 15th overall, up two spots from last week, and the defense is still ranked number one. Somehow the Bills ended up being the lowest rated team despite being 3-6, behind the wasteland that is 1-7 Kansas City and Jacksonville.
What are your thoughts about the rankings? Anything stand out to you about the NFC North? Should the Bears be higher than the Texans?