You know how in the horror and action genres, there are inevitably those moments near the end of the film/show where the hero appears to be completely in the clutches of the villain? He's out-numbered, out-gunned, out of chances and out of luck? As the viewer, you grip your chair a bit tighter, clench your jaw, and prepare your body and mind for something terrible to happen. That's how I felt watching the last offensive drive of the Seahawks. Strike that, the last two drives.
Talk about a double gut-punch. Watching Russell Wilson slice his way 97 yards to take the lead with 24 seconds left felt like watching a protagonist slowly being tortured by his nemesis. And true to a good flick, the villain appeared to have the edge, except the hero pulled out a miracle at the end (yippee ki ay...); for the Bears, it was an improbable 56 yard hookup between best-bros Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall and subsequent game-tying field goal. Except in this show, that battle didn't win the war, it merely prolonged the agony. Back came the aliens/sociopaths/dinocrocs to put another dagger in the hearts of our beloved Bears, this time for good. The good guys lost, the bad guys won, roll credits.
As for the rest of the NFC North: the Detroit Lions continued their trend of playing winnable football for about fifty minutes before blowing their lead and losing the game. This time, playing the role of the win-by-the-nose opponent were the Colts, whose last-second touchdown gave them a 35-33 win over the Lions. The Lions are a dangerous team - not for a playoff run, but as playoff spoiler - but always seem to come up short. The Packers hosted the Vikings, and thanks to Minnesota's commitment to 1960's style football (run, run, run, and pass for 100 yards) won 23-14. The Vikings drop to 6-6, despite Adrian Peterson's MVP caliber season, and the Packers rise up to 8-4 and claim first place in the North.
Time for our collection of power rankings from around the internet. As always, links to rankings are included in the table.
|Bears (8-4)||9 (7)||8 (8)||11 (8)||11 (9)||9 (8)||14 (14)||6 (5)|
|Packers (8-4)||7 (9)||7 (9)||5 (9)||6 (8)||7 (9)||11 (12)||5 (6)|
|Vikings (6-6)||17 (17)||17 (16)||19 (17)||18 (17)||18 (17)||26 (23)||23 (17)|
|Lions (4-8)||19 (22)||20 (21)||24 (24)||22 (20)||22 (20)||12 (11)||15 (11)|
So the Bears understandably dropped a few spots in most of the subjective rankings, and held their same spot in the ESPN poll at #8. They are still a playoff team, but with the injuries piling up on defense and three tough division games left, its not going to be easy. The Packers remain a top-ten team in the subjective rankings, but they're dealing with defensive injuries of their own, not to mention a nonexistent running game (unlike the Bears... maybe). The Vikings remain in the middle of the rankings with some slight falls, but it looks like the Vikings may fall just shy of the playoffs and a top-15 spot in the rankings (which is still amazingly better than what most people thought out them heading into the season. The Lions... well, at least they have Calvin Johnson. And at least they're not the Eagles, Jags, or Raiders.
Football Outisiders continues to rank the 2012 Bears as one of the best rated defensive units they've ever tracked, although they continue to slide a bit in the rankings. Through week 13, the Bears rank sixth best, just ahead of the 2006 Bears defense. They have a lot to say about the Bears defense, so hitting the link above is well worth the time. A snippet:
Obviously, there are plenty of non-personnel reasons (for the Bears' struggles), starting with simple regression towards the mean. This could all just be the usual random variation, and they just happened to have three weaker games in a row instead of spreading them out. Their strong defensive rating was also built on a lot of turnovers, and we know that a big turnover margin is unsustainable for a long time, but it isn't like the Bears have been giving up tons of yards and living off only turnovers.
So what do you think of the rankings this week for the Bears and the rest of the NFC North? Should the Bears be ranked lower? Are the Packers that good? Who's the worst team in the NFL right now?