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NFL Draft

Bears Not Getting Much Respect In NFL Power Rankings

  • The Draft Network
  • October 14, 2021
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The Chicago Bears began the 2021 season with more questions and concerns than confidence from pundits and analysts around the league. Few had faith that Matt Nagy’s team would challenge for a playoff spot this year, making Chicago’s 3-2 start a pleasant and somewhat unexpected surprise.

But even with their above .500 record and standing in sole possession of second place in the NFC North, a whip around Week 6’s NFL Power Rankings suggests that doubt remains whether the Bears can sustain a winning record and playoff relevancy.

ESPN has the Bears ranked 16th. NFL.com has them slotted at No. 23. The Athletic? 19th. Yahoo Sports? You guessed it: 21st.

Taking ESPN’s generous ranking away, most outlets have the Bears around or among the NFL’s bottom-10 teams. It’s a somewhat surprising discount of a club that’s riding the momentum of a two-game winning streak behind an offense that’s found a new identity with quarterback Justin Fields—the Bears rank ninth in the NFL in rushing—and a defense that leads the NFL in sacks.

Chicago boasts some impressive individual performances so far this season, too. Khalil Mack is sixth in the NFL in sacks (5), David Montgomery’s production as a runner remains 12th in the NFL despite missing time with a knee injury, Jaylon Johnson is fourth in the NFL in pass breakups, and rookie Khalil Herbert is a top-five kickoff returner.

What’s missing from the Bears’ season right now is a signature win. Their victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 5 has been clouded by the Jon Gruden meltdown, and their Week 2 win over Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, while a quality ‘W’, hasn’t moved the needle much. 

Chicago has a chance to rewrite the narrative surrounding their season Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, however. A victory over Aaron Rodgers at Soldier Field will force the league to take notice, and as a result, will push the Bears way up future power rankings.

For now, the Bears are right where they should be. They’re a team that still has a lot to prove, and let’s face it: Nagy hasn’t done much in his three-plus seasons to earn the benefit of the doubt.

Packers Week is always a big deal in Chicago. But in 2021, it matters even more. It’s the Bears’ chance to establish their arrival as an up-and-coming playoff contender that finally has a quarterback the franchise and the league can believe in.

But therein lies the problem. If the Bears need to beat the Packers—and Aaron Rodgers—for the rest of the league to believe in them, they may end up having doubters for a little while longer.

“I’ve always enjoyed the city, enjoyed the fans—even though they haven’t enjoyed me,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “I get it. Maybe there’ll be a little more love when my time comes to an end playing here.”

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