Publish date:

Measure of Respect for Bears

Sports Illustrated poll moves Bears up eight places after the 20-9 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.

It's amazing what one win does for opinions about an NFL team.

A week ago the Bears garnered no respect in power rankings for defeating the Detroit Lions.

Suddenly after a win over the Las Vegas Raiders before the depths of the Jon Gruden situation were known, and the Bears are flying high.

The Sports Illustrated power rankings for this week were released Tuesday, and after the 20-9 win over Las Vegas the Bears climbed a whopping eight positions from 23rd to 15th.

No doubt this week's game with Green Bay could be an even more telling situation.

"Justin Fields was finally named the starter, and the defense and run game end up carrying the day in Vegas," Albert Breer wrote. "Which is actually just how you'd think a smart coach would arrange his team around a rookie starter at the position."

Fields, who is the only rookie to have won more starts than he has lost at this point (2-1), went 12 of 20 for 111 yards and his first career touchdown in the win.

The Bears climbed past Minnesota, among other teams, with the win and the Vikings actually won last week.

The Bears made a similar climb in the rankings, although it was only six places. The problem is in the rankings they had been ranked 29th and down with the worst teams of the league despite a 2-2 record. So now they are only 23rd in the rankings.

Noting the newfound Bears identity of running and playing defense to support Justin Fields, Dan Hanzus wrote: "Will the Bears’ formula work against the NFL’s elite? Imposing tests lie ahead with the Packers and Bucs up next."

No doubt if they make strong showings and lose both, they'll be 31st or 32nd in the poll where respectable teams can lose to good teams like Cleveland and have the floor drop out beneath them.

The Bears made a jump very similar to the poll in ESPN's poll. They went from 23rd to 16th.

Bears writer Jeff Dickerson traced some of the defensive improvement back to a formula they tried to apply last year with Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack together and playing well.


"Through five games, Quinn has been the Bears' most consistent pass-rusher," Dickerson wrote. "He has 4.5 sacks in five games this season, compared to two sacks in 15 games in 2020. Quinn's re-emergence has also allowed Khalil Mack to flourish on the other side of the line. Quinn and Mack have become one of the NFC's most dominant pass-rushing duos."

In other polls this week, the Bears soared to 12th in the rankings on The Ringer, to 19th with Pro Football Network and to 15th from 20th with The Sporting News, where Vinnie Iyer wrote:

"The Bears are getting a lot of heat for the way Matt Nagy continues to handle the quarterback situation, even with a full-time commitment to Justin Fields. But that's taking away from the fact they are still built to win games with the defense and traditional running game."

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven