NFL Power Rankings: Bears ranked average team by Peter King

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Why Peter King thinks Bears second-best team in NFC North originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The NFL is always full of optimism, speculation and intrigue, as teams add players through the draft, or lose key contributors via free agency. With all of that come natural follow up questions. Which teams got better? And, which teams got worse? In his latest Football Morning in America column, Peter King tried to quantify that, and unfortunately for Bears fans he’s not incredibly high on how Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy’s team will fare in 2021.

King has the Bears ranked No. 16 in the league, perfectly in the middle. Based off of previous records, that’s a pretty fair assessment, considering they’ve finished 8-8 two years in a row. But with new quarterbacks in the fold, and several other key additions to the roster, many are hopeful the team can win 10 or more games this season.

“Part of me says, Throw Justin Fields in there right away—he’s a mature kid who’s played great in some very big college games, and he’s obviously the future,” King said in FMIA. “The other part of me thinks Andy Dalton is more equipped, much more, to take the heat of Aaron Donald and the Rams on opening night, and then trips to Tampa and Pittsburgh just before the Week-10 bye. The other factor, obviously, is whether Aaron Rodgers plays for the Packers; if he doesn’t, no question Matt Nagy will look at the season more as a win-now than even remotely a developmental one, because Chicago will have a good chance to win the division without Rodgers in it. Nagy said we’ll all know when it’s time for Fields, and I agree; either Dalton stinking it up (which I doubt he’ll do), or Fields starring in the classroom and practice will tell Nagy when it’s time. There’s enough talent on offense for either quarterback to win. Defensively, the loss of Kyle Fuller to Denver is a huge blow. But the Bears have been held back for the last two seasons by quarterback play, so I can’t get too fired up about one missing corner. The Bears will win 10 games with C-plus quarterbacking. I just don’t know if they’ll get that.”

Seems a bit odd to doubt whether or not the Bears can get “C-plus quarterbacking” moments after saying he doubts Dalton will be “stinking it up,” and praising Fields’ maturity. But King does have the Bears as the second-best team in the NFC North. Unsurprisingly, King rated the Packers the highest, at No. 8. But a bit more surprisingly he had the Vikings well behind the Bears, at No. 24.

“I don’t think they did enough to turn the defense around in the offseason—though they got one of my favorite players on the free market, Giants defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson,” King said of the Vikings. “Great signing; Tomlinson is an effort player who can move big bodies and skate around them in the middle. The Vikings are gambling on Patrick Peterson, 31 in July, being a solid corner after slipping to 61st among cornerbacks (minimum 350 coverage snaps) by PFF last year. Big gamble. To have a good chance in the NFC North, with or without Aaron Rodgers playing, that defense has to be 100 points stingier.”

Meanwhile, King doesn’t expect much from the Lions under new head coach Dan Campell. He has them ranked as one of the worst teams in the league at No. 30.

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