Bears Insider

Schrock's NFL Power Rankings: Where Bears stand after win vs. Cardinals

The Bears bounced back with a win over a juice-less Cardinals team in Week 16. It means little, but it's enough to have them move up in the weekly rankings

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The NFL playoff picture is starting to crystalize as we head toward 2024.

Week 16 started with the Los Angeles Rams’ statement win over the New Orleans Saints. The Rams now are in pole position to earn the second wild-card spot and a Wild Card Weekend date with the Detroit Lions.

Saturday saw Jake Browning and the Cincinnati Bengals put their playoff hopes on life support with a loss to Mason Rudolph and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills avoided a catastrophic loss in L.A. to climb to the No. 6 spot in the AFC.

On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took another step toward the NFC South crown by pummeling the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Dallas Cowboys all but locked themselves into the No. 5 slot with a loss in Miami.

In Chicago, the Bears bounced back from a horrific loss in Cleveland with a 27-16 win over a relatively listless Cardinals team. The Bears’ playoff hopes are all but dashed but wins over the Falcons and Packers to finish the season will create some positive momentum heading into the offseason.

In the Christmas Night finale, the Baltimore Ravens rolled into Santa Clara and bludgeoned the 49ers in what very well could be a Super Bowl preview. There's a new Super Bowl favorite and MVP front-runner with two weeks to go, and they both reside in Baltimore.

Here’s where each team stands after Week 16:

  1. Baltimore Ravens (12-3): That sound you just heard was Lamar Jackson taking over as the front-runner in the MVP race. Monday night's contest at Levi's Stadium was billed as a statement game, but only one team did the talking.
  2. San Francisco 49ers (11-4): The 49ers entered Monday night's game against the AFC-leading Ravens as the perceived Super Bowl favorites. They were not ready for prime time as the Ravens pantsed them on their home turf and burned down Brock Purdy's MVP campaign in the process.
  3. Miami Dolphins (11-4): In holding off the Cowboys at home, the Dolphins finally beat a team with a winning record. Can they follow it up with a win over the Ravens in Week 17 and prove they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders?
  4. Dallas Cowboys (10-5): The Cowboys just can’t win on the road. That’s bad news as Sunday's loss all but guarantees they’ll be the NFC’s fifth seed, meaning they’ll likely have to win three straight road playoff games to get to the Super Bowl.
  5. Philadelphia Eagles (11-4): I thought the Eagles' issues over the past month were a product of the schedule gauntlet they had to run through. Monday's sloppy performance in a win over the Giants proved that theory incorrect.
  6. Buffalo Bills (9-6): The Bills morphed back into the pitiful November version of themselves against the Chargers but managed to avoid a landmine that would have tanked their playoff changes. Buffalo might be the most dangerous team in the AFC come playoff time.
  7. Detroit Lions (11-4): For the first time in franchise history, the Detroit Lions are NFC North champions. The Lions have a few weeks to try and fix a defense that has been torched through the air over the last month, including giving up 411 yards to Nick Mullens on Sunday.
  8. Cleveland Browns (10-5): Joe Flacco has now thrown for 300 or more yards in three straight games for the first time in his career. Could it be destiny?
  9. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6): The Chiefs play like they want to prove they are still the same team that can call any play at any time and execute it to perfection. But they aren't that team anymore, and they are out of time to fix the multitude of things that ail them.
  10.  Los Angeles Rams (8-7): We’re three weeks away from the Lions playing their first playoff game since 2016 against … Matthew Stafford. Who says the NFL isn’t poetry?
  11.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7): The Bucs put together their most complete game of the season in Sunday’s hammering of the Jags. The NFC South is in Tampa’s grasp, and Baker Mayfield appears to have found a long-term home. Who needs Tom Brady, right?
  12.  Seattle Seahawks (8-7): Geno Smith’s future in Seattle past 2023 might be in doubt, but he delivered a game-winning drive Sunday in Tennessee to save the Seahawks from a crippling loss. With two winnable games remaining, the Seahawks are in good shape to get back to the postseason.
  13. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7): Despite their four-game losing streak, the Jaguars are still in the driver’s seat in the AFC South, thanks to the Texans and Colts losing Sunday. But Jacksonville is playing its worst football of the season right now, and there isn’t any sign of it coming to an end. The Jags could very well win the South and get the No. 4 seed, but their playoff road likely will be short.
  14. Houston Texans (8-7): The Texans were outgained by Amari Cooper on Sunday (265-250). If C.J. Stroud can’t return next week, Houston’s season is probably over.
  15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7): In typical Mike Tomlin fashion, he’s going to finish 9-8 while playing three backup-quality quarterbacks. If the Steelers really want to trade him, teams should line up to fork over picks for Tomlin.
  16.  Cincinnati Bengals (8-7): Jake Browning finally turned back into Jake Browning against the Steelers, and the Bengals’ playoff dreams took a massive hit in the process.
  17. Minnesota Vikings (7-8): If you still doubted Kyle Shanahan’s greatness as an offensive mind, just remember that he made Nick Mullens look like a quarterback you could win with.
  18. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8): Antonio Pierce has embarrassed the Los Angeles Chargers and beaten the Kansas City Chiefs in back-to-back weeks. That's the quickest way to Mark Davis' heart and having the interim tag removed.
  19.  Atlanta Falcons (7-8): With Arthur Smith’s seat warming, the Falcons put together their most complete performance of the season. Atlanta racked up 406 yards of offense while sacking Gardner Minshew six times and holding the Colts to 262 yards. With the Bears and Saints remaining, a season-ending three-game win streak and a 9-8 record could be in the cards for the Falcons.
  20. Indianapolis Colts (8-7): The Colts have overachieved this season, and the run appears to be coming to an end after a dispiriting loss to the Falcons on Sunday. Indy faces the Raiders in Week 17 but only has a 42 percent chance to make the playoffs after the flop in Atlanta.
  21. Denver Broncos (7-8): Losing to Bailey Zappe at home should disqualify you from the playoffs.
  22.  New Orleans Saints (7-8): With a full-no-trade clause and $30 million guaranteed in 2024, Derek Carr isn’t going anywhere unless he wants to. Sorry, Saints.
  23. Green Bay Packers (7-8): A week after getting shredded by Baker Mayfield, the Packers let Bryce Young throw for 311 yards on them in a narrow win. Their playoff hopes are alive, but they won’t be there long, even if they punch their postseason ticket.  
  24. Chicago Bears (6-9): The Bears refuse to let go of the rope despite the constant storm of adversity. That’s a feather in Matt Eberflus’ cap and likely will get him a stay of execution this offseason. The 2023 Bears are three fourth-quarter faceplants from being 9-6. That’s an illustration of how far they’ve come from last year and how far they have to go to get where they want to be.
  25. New York Jets (6-9): Robert Saleh is safe because Aaron Rodgers ruptured his Achilles. That’s a poor excuse to keep a net-negative coach around for another season.
  26.  Los Angeles Chargers (5-10): It’s clear the entire Chargers roster exhaled when Brandon Staley was fired. LA played free and loose in a near upset of the Bills behind backup quarterback Easton Stick.
  27. Tennessee Titans (5-10): The Titans currently sit in the No. 5 spot in the draft, but one win will bump them to the back end of the top 10. A meaningless win down the stretch feels inevitable.
  28.  New York Giants (5-9): The Tommy DeVito story was fun while it lasted, but in the end, all it did was cost the Giants a couple of precious draft slots.
  29. New England Patriots (4-11): Congrats to Bailey Zappe and Bill Belichick for potentially throwing away the Patriots' chance at Drake Maye and an outside shot at Caleb Williams with a win in Denver.
  30. Washington Commanders (4-11): Jayden Daniels and (perhaps) Drake Maye might want to start looking at real estate in the DMV. Sam Howell no longer looks like the answer, and the Commanders now sit in the No. 3 spot in the draft.
  31. Arizona Cardinals (3-12): The Cardinals aren’t even on the ground floor of the rebuild. They are still digging to set the foundation. It’s going to take some time to get things right in the desert.
  32. Carolina Panthers (2-13): Barring two wins to close the season, the Panthers will hand the No. 1 pick to the Bears after a dreadful 2023. Not how Scott Fitterer drew it up.

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