First things first.
If you celebrate Christmas, then Merry Christmas!
If not, then Happy Tuesday!
With only one week to go, the Chicago Bears are 11-4 and can do no worse than the third seed in the NFC. They still have a long shot at the two seed, but just being postseason bound is a place not many people predicted for this team back in August.
The trade for Khalil Mack sent a message from management that they felt this team was ready, but that didn’t move the needle from a national perspective, and most pundits still had Chicago, at best, as third in the NFC North. I’ll own my prediction; I had them finishing at 10-6, but missing the playoffs with the Vikings and Packers ahead of them in the division. I’m glad I was wrong.
Now I think the Bears have a legit shot at making it to the Super Bowl. The defense has been tough all year and the offense has been good enough in most games. Win or lose, this team is built for some sustained success these next few years.
Let’s take a peek around the internet to see how the experts have the Bears in their Power Rankings this week.
I’m starting with NFL.com, because they have the Bears higher than anyone else this week; Number 2!
Previous rank: No. 4
The pundits (whoever they are) will no doubt question ranking the Bears this high, especially after they narrowly defeated the 49ers. That win revealed more about the strengths of this Chicago team than it did its weaknesses. Putting aside the fact that San Francisco has been playing everyone tough (ask the Broncos, who will be home in mid-January, or the Seahawks), the Bears held off the 49ers’ offense when it mattered most, and they did so without their best playmaker outside of Khalil Mack ... safety Eddie Jackson.
They held the 49ers’ offense to a paltry 279 total yards; Kyle Shanahan’s attack had averaged 100 yards more than that during Nick Mullens’ improbable six-game run as a starting QB (385.5) entering the matchup with Chicago. San Francisco’s ground game ground to a halt versus the Bears’ front seven, with a season-low 47 yards. Then there’s Mitch TruBearsky, who played within himself, taking what the 49ers gave him while not making the mistakes that would force his All-World defense to defend short fields.
Also with the Bears at number 2 is the Washington Post.
2. Chicago Bears (11-4) | Last Week’s Rank: 3
The defense continues to thrive, and the Bears will be a formidable team entering the NFC playoffs. But if they want to be an honest-to-goodness Super Bowl threat, the offense simply will have to be more productive than it was against the San Francisco 49ers.
Yahoo Sports has it like this.
3. Chicago Bears (11-4, LW: 5)
In a weird way, a loss at the 49ers might not have been the worst thing. The Bears won, and a first-round bye is still on the table, though Chicago needs an unlikely Rams loss to the 49ers. The Bears almost have to play it straight, just in case. We might look back and realize the Bears would have been better off taking Week 17 off with nothing to play for.
Over at ESPN, they kept the Bears at 5 this week while giving out a Non-MVP award.
Non-QB MVP: OLB Khalil Mack. He has elevated the Bears’ defense to another level. Mack leads the team in sacks (12.5), forced fumbles (six) and fumble recoveries (two). He’s been virtually unblockable at times this year. Mack’s presence also helped three other Bears defenders earn Pro Bowl nods for the first time in their careers: Akiem Hicks, Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson.
CBS Sports has Chicago up one to number 4.
It wasn’t pretty against the 49ers, but they found a way. The offense has to be better going forward.
Sporting News dropped the Bears one spot this week.
5. Chicago Bears 11-4 (last week: 4)
The Bears didn’t get many style points for how they survived against the 49ers, but they stayed true to their late-season identity. They need to be a little more explosive offensively, however, to win on the road in the playoffs.
Before we go any further, let’s take a peek at the NFC North standings...
Let’s see, there’s a wins column, a loss column... Net points is an important number, but I don’t see a “style points” category anywhere...
The Houston Chronicle has it like this.
3. Chicago (11-4) | Last week: 4
If the Bears win at Minnesota, they’ll finish with a four-game winning streak and have a shot at a first-round bye if the Rams lose.
Here’s how Pro Football Talk has it.
3. Bears (11-4; No. 4): Beating the Vikings could end up being the thing that brings down a special season, since Chicago could then end up being the next notch in Nick Foles‘ magic belt.
What do you guys think about the Power Rankings this week?
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