Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: Chicago Bears Complete Slow Descent Into Mediocrity

The Chicago Bears (7-8) were officially eliminated from the NFC Wildcard race in Week 16, so fans should expect a big fallout in the NFL Power Rankings.

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Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: NBC Sports Drops Chicago Bears To No. 25

A tough week for the Chicago Bears continues to get tougher. After losing to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night -- despite accruing more total yards than the Packers -- the Bears have begun to slide and topple down the Week 17 NFL Power Rankings, earning a near-the-bottom No. 25 slotting from NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk:

25. Bears (No. 24; 7-8): [Kahlil Bell] may have cost Matt Forte a lot of money.

Indeed, after Bell's impressive 121 rushing yards and 38 receiving yards in Sunday's contest, the injured Matt Forte suddenly looked much less like an offensive keystone than, say, QB Jay Cutler. Forte, who is nearing the conclusion of his rookie contract with the Bears, has been lobbying the franchise for an extension, requesting rather large money, but with the apparent emergence of Bell, Forte's services may be more expendable than priceless.

In Week 16, the Bears offense put together a season-high of 441 total yards on the shoulders of third-stringers Bell and QB Josh McCown -- who threw two interceptions, but otherwise had a solid game in his first start in four years.

The Bears will be in their final action of the 2011 season this coming Sunday, taking on the Minnesota Vikings at noon CST.

Stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Chicago Bears be sure to visit Windy City Gridiron. Visit SB Nation NFL for more news and notes around the league.

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Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: SB Nation Leaves Chicago Bears Hanging At No. 23

The Chicago Bears knew their season was over the moment the clock hit triple zeros in their Week 16 loss to the Green Bay Packers, but in many ways Joel Thorman of SB Nation knew the hope dwindled away long before that moment. SB Nation has released Week 17 NFL Power Rankings, and the Chicago Bears have remained ranked at No. 23. Like other experts around the league, Thorman had a pretty good idea the Bears could not compete at a high enough level on offense with Caleb Hanie or anyone other than Jay Cutler at quarterback:

23. Chicago Bears (7-8, LW: 23): The Bears are probably a top 10 team with Jay Cutler. Without him, they are the 23rd best team.

An interesting corollary would be to do that same test with injured running back Matt Forte. The team has actually produced more than respectable numbers on the ground with fill-ins Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell, so the argument could be made that Forte isn't nearly as important to the long-term plans of the team. They still may franchise tag Forte in the offseason, but it would seem any offers for a long-term extension aren't going to balloon any time soon.

Stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Chicago Bears be sure to visit Windy City Gridiron. Visit SB Nation NFL for more news and notes around the league.

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NFL Power Rankings Week 17: ESPN Drops Chicago Bears To No. 22

The Chicago Bears have earned every bit of respect and skepticism they have received in the 2011 NFL season, and unfortunately for them the skepticism has been well founded in recent weeks. After jumping out to a 7-3 record, the Bears have now lost five games in a row and have been officially eliminated from the playoffs. ESPN has released Week 17 Power Rankings, and the Bears moved down one spot to No. 22 overall. That doesn't mean there isn't still work to do, as John Clayton explains:

22. Chicago Bears (7-8, LW: 21) - Now that they are out of the playoff race, the Bears have to decide about Mike Martz's future. (Clayton).

The team closes out the season against the No. 30 Minnesota Vikings in Week 17. It's not the situation the Bears had hoped for, but maybe they can get a look at their pending free agents and untested rookies to see where they need to upgrade heading into the offseason.

Stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Chicago Bears be sure to visit Windy City Gridiron. Visit SB Nation NFL for more news and notes around the league.

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Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: Chicago Bears Should Drop After Elimination From Playoff Race

The Chicago Bears (7-8) were officially eliminated from the NFC Wildcard race in Week 16, so fans should expect a big fallout in the NFL Power Rankings.

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