Where the Experts Rank the Bears

Fortunately for the Bears NFL power rankings mean very little because various web sites think very little of them but there is a computer out there somewhere wearing a Bears cap.
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Preseason NFL power rankings normally mean as much as regular-season power rankings.

That is to say, about the same as a politician's promise.

They play games to determine the winner in the NFL and voting on who is best or serves only to inflate and deflate egos, or provide copy to accompany sold ads on the internet. 

Still, the ranking goes on and the Bears have come out of this year's preseason power polls rated even lower than they were following the NFL Draft.

This is to be expected considering the preseason and training camp they had, when their starting left tackle and second-round pick, Teven Jenkins, went out indefinitely with back surgery, they cut their only established veteran cornerback and their quarterback gives people headaches.

There is a logic to keeping Justin Fields on the bench briefly considering he has never been through an NFL week of preparation. Doing it much beyond this serves only to reward Andy Dalton for something he hasn't deserved. 

Perhaps Dalton will fool us all. Probably not.

The Bears couldn't crack the top half of the league in any major power ranking but Bears fans shouldn't fret because a computer provided some much-needed excitement to the season.

Here is where they've been ranked across the web:

Sports Illustrated: No. 23

Albert Breer, Greg Bishop, Andrew Brandt, Connor Orr and a cast of thousands at SI have put the Bears 23rd of 32.

"By sticking steadfastly to the Andy Dalton plan, the Bears have become one of the more interesting teams in the league," SI wrote. "When will Justin Fields start? Everyone will just keep asking until it happens."

True enough. The Fields/Dalton situation is a familiar refrain throughout all of these web insults.

CBS Sports: No. 23

Pete Prisco again brought up the Dalton-Fields situation in CBS rankings, calling it "...only a matter of time/games before Justin Fields takes over." How valid is this poll? All you need to know is Seattle, Pittsburgh and New Orleans are all ranked in the bottom half of the league.

USA Today: No. 26

The people at the nation's newspaper think the least of the Bears. At least USA Today's Nate Davis gave a refreshing reason for reducing the Bears to the level of a rebuilding team. "They'll face pass rushers Aaron Donald, Trey Hendrickson and (Myles) Garrett in September ... a trio that could serve weekly reminders of Chicago's self-inflicted O-line issues," Davis wrote. 

It won't take Donald, Hendrickson and Garrett to remind them of this. Joe Blow pass rusher could do it as well, considering how the Bears had to piece together Andy Dalton's blockers at the last minute.

Pro Football Focus: No. 19

Normally PFF delights in dealing insults to the Bears but ironically enough they have taken the high road with the best Bears ranking. Without offering explanations, they did say the Bears have only a 1% probability of winning the Super Bowl. So they're saying there's a chance.

ESPN: No. 22

ESPN's Bears beat writer Jeff Dickerson called Robert Quinn a key player in all of this. "The Bears want to see a return on their investment from Quinn," Dickerson wrote. "So far, not so good." And he brought up how Quinn missed a big chunk of training camp with back problems. 

It's looking like the single worst move Ryan Pace made since trading up to draft Mitchell Trubisky. 

NFL.Com/NFL Network: No. 21

This statement by NFL media couldn't be more false: "The entire fan base wants Justin Fields to play, and those fans will let Matt Nagy and the Bears know it by the season's first three-and-out." It's true most of the base wants this. But they're not going to let Nagy know it with the game being played in Los Angeles.

The Ringer: No. 22

Danny Kelly also focused on the quarterbacks, but added the weak links on their line. "The long-term future looks bright for the Bears with Justin Fields behind center, but in the short term, things could get ugly," he wrote. "Thanks in part to the team’s sieve-like offensive line, it's looking like we're going to get the Andy Dalton experience to start the season."

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and a Bears Hat

The best news of all preseason predictions for Bears fans came not from a man but a machine. ESPN ran a full season simulation and in it answered the question of when Fields will become starter. The computer says he will start for the first time on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 5, which really makes little sense. A home-field edge would be the ideal place for Fields to debut, although Vegas might actually be more of a neutral site considering how many Bears fans say they're headed to sin city for the game.

The simulation had the Bears owning a 1-3 record when the first start comes, and then some tough games to follow. 

However, it forecasted Fields coming on strong with a major upset win over Baltimore and a run later in the season, culminated by knocking off the Minnesota Vikings on the road in much the same fashion as last year. It gives them an 8-9 record but they squeezed into the final NFC wild-card berth.

While the computer saw the Bears making the playoffs with Fields, it couldn't give the Bears that elusive first playoff win for Matt Nagy. Fields gave it a run and they lost 20-17 to another first-year quarterback, Trey Lance and the San Francisco 49ers.

The simulation put the Packers in the Super Bowl, so Aaron Rodgers finally breaks his NFC championship game jinx. 

But Buffalo wins it. So Bills no longer stands for "Boy I Love Losing Super Bowls."

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