Oh, Bears, how you torment me. The first half of the season was deliciously great, with a 7-1 start to the season, a defensive juggernaut with occasional flashes of offensive competency. But, like chili for an old man, good things don't always come out so well in the end (thanks, tip your waitress). A 1-4 start to the second half of the season - not to mention enough injured Bears to start their own IR team - has left the team brittle, battered, and... bedazzled? No, that's not right... beflustered? That's not a word... ah bollocks, regardless, the Bears are in trouble.
The Vikings 21-14 victory over Chicago pushed the Bears down to the sixth seed in the current playoff seedings, while Minnesota stays very much alive for a practically improbable playoff spot. Seriously, how many teams since the 60s have made the playoffs with six games of less than 150 total passing yards? I can think of the one, the Denver Tebows, but that's it.
The Packers took down the Lions 27-20, pushing their record to 9-4 and leaving Detroit a lowly 4-9. If anyone is still feeling good about the Bears chances of beating the Packers next week, look at how they beat Detroit: 25 rushes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers threw zero touchdowns and had only 173 passing yards. Oh, and Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews could be coming back this week. Awesome.
Power Rankings Table Time (different from peanut butter jelly time): as always, links are in the table.
|Packers (9-4)||6 (7)||6 (7)||6 (5)||6 (6)||6 (7)||10 (11)||7 (5)|
|Bears (8-5)||15 (9)||11 (8)||15 (11)||13 (11)||12 (9)||14 (14)||6 (6)|
|Vikings (7-6)||14 (17)||16 (17)||16 (17)||16 (18)||15 (18)||26 (26)||24 (19)|
|Lions (4-9)||26 (22)||25 (21)||28 (24)||23 (22)||24 (22)||12 (12)||12 (14)|
The Packers officially take over the top spot in our rankings table, and are sixth on all the subjective polls included. The Bears slide out of the top ten all together, but are outranked by the Vikings in only the SBNation poll. I'm surprised more polls don't have the Vikings ranked higher than Chicago, but really, how much higher can you rank a team led by Christian Ponder? The Lions... listen, the way things are going, I almost expect the Lions to give away their next two games (@ Ari, v Atl) in the fourth quarter (versus Green Bay, score was 17 all after three) then finish the season with a come-from-behind victory against the Bears. Hope I'm wrong, but worried that I'm right.
While the Patriots have taken over all the top spots (except for the hotly-debated AdvancedNFLStats Team Efficiency Ratings), pollsters have taken to humor to ease the pain of Bears' fans. Or, at least, attempts at humor. From ESPN:
Once 7-1 and a candidate for this poll's top spot, the Bears have fallen, and they might not be able to get up.
Pro Football Talk:
G.M. Phil Emery is making a different kind of list than Santa's.
Maybe the Bears aren't a playoff team... Now best case scenario is looking like 10 wins, which would probably be enough. But what if they slip up?
As for AdvancedNFLStats and their Team Efficiency Ratings, the top-ten of this week's list includes all potential playoff teams (except for #3 Carolina Panthers). And teams with playoff aspirations near the bottom of the list - the Vikings at 26 and the Colts and 25 - both have imbalanced offenses and defenses that are inconsistent, which makes them inefficient. Its all coming together for them, and they do acknowledge that this list shouldn't be misconstrued as a power rankings list:
Is CAR really the 3rd best team in the league? Well probably not, but they are the 3rd most efficient and definitely much better than their record indicates. Is BAL really the 21st best team? Again, probably not but they certainly are the 21st most efficient... They face DEN, NYG, and CIN to finish the regular season... It's plausible that the once 9-2 BAL finishes the season... 9-7 but squeaking into the playoffs to lose in the wildcard round.
As for Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, here's the offensive, defensive, and special teams rankings for the three NFC North teams still in playoff contention:
The Packers are the most balanced, with all three phases in the top-eleven. The Bears, as they always have under Lovie Smith, lean heavily on their defense and special teams to win games, while the Vikings rely on Adrian Peterson, who is the only reason the Vikings don't have the 33rd ranked offense. And if you care about the Lions rankings... head to Football Outsiders and check it out for yourself.
What do you think of this week's rankings list? Should the Bears be lower than the Vikings? Are the Patriots the #1 team in the NFL? Still not a fan of AdvancedNFLStats?