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NFL Power Rankings: The Bears are a Top-10 Team (?)

Does a 5-1 record speak for itself? Perusing through the NFL Power Rankings, it seems people still like to talk.

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Chicago Bears v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears defeated the Carolina Panthers this past Sunday, thanks to a few solid offensive drives orchestrated by Nick Foles, and a late interception by DeAndre Houston-Carson to seal the win. The victory puts the team record at 5-1, with their only loss being to the Indianapolis Colts (4-2) and with impressive wins over Tom “4th-Down” Brady and Teddy “Two-Gloves” Bridgewater.

Any team sitting at 5-1 should be getting national respect, right? The Bears are 1st place in the NFC North so they must at least be ranked higher than the 2nd-place Packers, right? Things are supposed to make sense in these power rankings, right?

Well, let’s just dive in.

USA Today’s Touchdown Wire represents the largest jump of all the rankings. The Bears are up 7 spots.

8. Chicago Bears (5-1. Last week 15)

Right now they are 5-1, and thanks to Sunday’s loss by the Green Bay Packers, they are tied for first place in the NFC North. They are in first place despite a quarterback change from Mitchell Trubisky to Nick Foles, and continued high-variance play from the veteran passer. They are in first place perhaps due to their defense, which continues to play at a solid level. They pressured Teddy Bridgewater early and often, forcing three different turnovers on the afternoon and holding the Carolina Panthers to a third-down conversion percentage of just 23%.

Yet, do you trust the Bears right now?

Bears fans have made a running joke of it on Twitter, highlighting how many consider the Bears the “worst 4-1 team in history,” and likely now the “worst 5-1 team in history.” But the skepticism Chicago is met with comes with good reason. Their victories have come against Detroit, the New York Giants, the Atlanta Falcons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a short week, and now the Panthers. Every game in the NFL is tough, but some are tougher than others.

Over the next few weeks? They get the Rams, the Saints, the Titans, the Vikings and the Packers.

If they manage to get to 10-1 given that slate, I’m sure those jokes will stop.

CBS Sports has the Bears higher than anybody else in this list.

6. Chicago Bears. At 5-1, it’s time to give them their props. It might not be pretty, but they are getting the job done.

Pro Football Talk has the Bears climbing out of mediocrity.

7. Bears (No. 12; 5-1): Winning ugly is better than losing pretty is better than losing ugly is better than being ugly.

ESPN noted each team’s most impactful injury while leaving the Bears juuussst outside of the top-10.

11. Chicago Bears (5-1)

Most impactful injury: RB Tarik Cohen

Cohen, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 3, contributed heavily on offense and special teams. The Bears have yet to fill Cohen’s multidimensional role on offense, although veteran Lamar Miller is a strong candidate to do so whenever the Bears elevate him off the practice squad. Cohen provided Chicago with a strong second option in the run game alongside David Montgomery, and Cohen caught 79 passes out of the backfield last season. The Bears also are struggling to fill Cohen’s role on punt returns, where veteran Ted Ginn Jr. has failed to generate much positive yardage in recent weeks. — Jeff Dickerson put a 4-1 team at #16 last week, then put a 5-1 team at #11 this week. See? Doesn’t that just sound wrong when you remove the team name from the sentence?

11. Chicago Bears. Do you respect the Bears yet? They provided more food for thought on Sunday, shutting down the Panthers with a 23-16 win in Charlotte. Carolina had been playing as well as any team in the NFC over the course of its three-game winning streak, but the Bears’ defense muzzled Matt Rhule’s offense with a now-familiar recipe for success: get to the quarterback and force turnovers. Add in improved QB play for Chicago with Nick Foles, and the Bears are finding ways to win close games week after week. But back to the question at hand: Do you respect the Bears yet? With games against the Rams, Saints and Titans on tap (12-4 combined record), further clarity should be on the way.

Back in 1993, Matt Nagy shoved some kid into a locker and called him a nerd. Well, 27 years later that nerd must work at Yahoo Sports and is exacting his revenge by writing their power rankings. Bears drop from #11 to #12 after the win.

12. Chicago Bears (5-1, LW: 11)

The Bears are just that team whose record won’t match how good they are. They were outgained by the Panthers. Carolina had more yards per play, more first downs, mostly more of everything except points. The Bears defense is good, but probably not good enough to continually overcome a bad offense. I can’t justify putting them higher than this, despite their record.

USA Today held firm, only moving the needle the tiniest amount.

13. Bears (14): They’re in first place, so give them credit for grit. But nothing comes easily to this team, especially on offense. Watching Chicago try to score from the 1-yard line Sunday - failing in a four tight end set, then a three-receiver set - before QB Nick Foles did it himself...just painful.

Average ranking: 10

Honorary Mention: NBC Sports Chicago runs a fantastic power rankings “overreaction” list, which shouldn’t be taken too seriously (none of these should really, but they’re popular nonetheless) and they have the Bears listed as contenders:

05: Chicago Bears (def. CAR, 23-16)

5-1! Nick Foles Magic! It’s all happening! 1985 doesn’t even matter anymore!!

What’s even more entertaining is their ranking for the Packers:

26: Green Bay Packers (L to TB, 10-38)

Woooooof. Every NFL team is good for a dud or two each season, and Tom Brady’s usually been on the other end of a lot of those. Rinse and repeat.

What do you think? Should the Bears be a consensus top-10 team across all the national rankings? Leave a comment with your thoughts.