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October 17, 2017

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Bears are dead

In the past, our "NFC Hierarchy/Obituary" series was a weekly feature, and I'd typically write in excess of 2000 words on the teams around the rest of the NFC. I just don't have the time for that anymore with all my other beat reporter duties, so beginning last year, we published these a little more sporadically. 

This year, the plan will be to just do a Hierarchy post whenever we kill off a new team. This week, we have one new obituary.

Obituary: Bears

The timing of the Bears' demise here may seem odd, seeing as they just won on the road at Baltimore this week, and the alpha dog Packers in the NFC North lost Aaron Rodgers for the season. Still, we would have killed off the Bears when they were 1-4 last week, so we'll just kill them off here this week anyway.

Even with the Bears' circumstances having improved after Week 6, the fact remains that they have the worst point differential in the conference:

Team Point differential Team Point differential 
 Eagles+43 Panthers +6 
 Rams+41  Redskins+4 
 Saints+29  Buccaneers-3 
 Seahawks+23  Cowboys-7 
 Vikings+19  Giants-27 
 Packers+12  49ers-33 
 Lions+12  Cardinals-39 
 Falcons+12  Bears-43 

Additionally, the Bears' two wins this season have come against AFC teams, and they remain winless in the NFC. In other words, they're likely not winning any tiebreakers if they come into play down the line.

MORE ON THE EAGLES: Doug Pederson showing why Mike Lombardi is a former NFL executive | Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones reportedly 'not close' to practicing, may not play at all this year Eagles are all alone atop the NFC | What they're saying: With favorable schedule and 'elite' QB, just how far can Eagles go? | Eagles run defense was utterly dominant vs. Panthers, with GIFs and stuff

Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has talent, and the rest of this season should be about allowing him to gain experience in the NFL. Then this offseason, the Bears will have the opportunity to fire their coaching staff, and surround Trubisky with a quarterback-focused staff, much like the Eagles did with Carson Wentz.



13) Cardinals (3-3): The Cardinals' trade for Adrian Peterson paid off immediately, as Peterson ran 26 times for 134 yards and 2 TDs in his Arizona debut. Still, Peterson isn't going to save this old ass team over the long haul. 

12) Buccaneers (2-3): The Bucs were a trendy pick heading into the 2017 season because of their intriguing group of skill position players, and an improving young quarterback in Jameis Winston. Five games in, the Bucs are 2-3 in a great division, and Winston now has a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder.

11) Packers (4-2): The only reason Aaron Rodgers doesn't have more than one Super Bowl on his résumé is because his supporting casts haven't been very good over his career. He has carried this team on his back for years, and everyone is about to see how bad this team is without him.

10) Lions (3-3): The Lions have given up at least 27 points in three games so far this season, including 52 points to the Saints Week 6. Still, their chances for the playoffs may have improved this week with the loss of Aaron Rodgers, even though they lost, and are an inconsistent team.

9) Cowboys (2-3): Bye, Zeke. (Probably.)

8) Redskins (3-2): Somehow this was called offensive pass interference on the 49ers as they were trying to drive for a game-winning field goal.

Lol. Had the winless Niners not gotten jobbed, the Redskins might be 2-3.

7) Vikings (4-2): I mean, even with a 4-2 record and a seemingly clear path to an NFC North title, I can't put the Vikes much higher than this when they're led by Sam Bradford's damaged body and/or Case Keenum.

6) Saints (3-2): I'm still skeptical about the Saints defense, but that offense is outstanding under Drew Brees and a variety of playmakers.

5) Panthers (4-2): The Panthers are a tough football team with a good defense and a talented quarterback, but I was very surprised by how ineffectively they ran the ball last Thursday against the Eagles. This team is not built to succeed if they can't run it better.

4) Rams (4-2): As the chart above shows, the Rams have the second-best point differential in the NFC. 31-year old Sean McVay was an inspired hire by the Rams.

3) Falcons (3-2): The Falcons have lost two straight games, both at home, to meh opponents in the Bills and Dolphins. In Week 7, they'll head to New England, where they'll face the team that they blew a 25-point lead to in the Super Bowl.

Word of advice to the Falcons' staff if they find themselves up eight with around four minutes to go just outside the red zone  – just run it three times and kick the field goal.

2) Seahawks (3-2): The Seahawks have been much more impressive after their usual early-season slow start.

1) Eagles (5-1):  If the Eagles can beat this banged-up Redskins team on Monday night, they will have at least a 2.5 game lead on the rest of the division, with a sweep in hand over the Redskins, and a 3-0 record within the division. At that point, it will be incredibly difficult to catch them.

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