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.