Friday, September 8, 2023

Chicago Bears Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2023 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Chicago Bears in our consensus 2023 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 24

On the hot seat: WR Velus Jones Jr.

The Bears' wide receiver room is more crowded now than it was during Jones' rookie season, which leaves little room for error when it comes to issues of ball security. Last season, Jones fumbled three times and muffed two punts in the fourth quarter of losses, which cost him his job as a returner. He has had steady work at receiver with the second-team offense, and coaches see a potential for him to be used on jet sweeps and gadget plays. But Jones' path to the 53-man roster comes via his special teams contributions, and a muffed punt in the preseason opener against Tennessee doesn't do much to help his case. -- Courtney Cronin -- Rank: 26

Justin Fields' preseason work was fine, albeit brief. But with Fields due for a possible extension next offseason, everyone knows how important this season is to determining his future with the Bears, who are waiting for him to turn the proverbial corner. GM Ryan Poles recently said he needs to see more steps in his QB's development. "Want those sack numbers to come down, interceptions to come down, make good reads, protect himself, just see him take that next step," Poles said. The dream, of course, would be for Fields to make a Jalen Hurts-esque leap from Year 2 to 3. Their second-year numbers actually compare quite favorably, although Fields' sack rate (14.7% last season to Hurts' 5.7% in 2021) and interception rate (3.5% last season to Hurts' 2.1% in 2021) truly are concerning outliers until proven otherwise.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 27

They will be better this season, but I think their real push will come in 2024. The offense with Justin Fields will make strides in the passing game.

USA Today -- Rank: 25

An offense that ranked 23rd in scoring last year should be putting more points on the board. The question is how many fewer a defense that ranked dead last in 2022 will allow.

The Athletic -- Rank: 24

Best-case scenario: DJ Moore does for Fields what Brown did for Hurts and what Stefon Diggs did for Josh Allen. With a true No. 1 receiver and a much-improved offensive line, Fields goes from last in the league in EPA per pass attempt to the back half of the top 10 while remaining the most explosive rusher in the league at the position. Offseason additions help turn the defense from awful to fine, and the Bears steal the NFC North crown at 10-7.

Worst-case scenario: Fields' crazy-high sack rate turns out to be more than a function of a bad offensive line, and he's unable to avoid negative plays. The season plays out without giving Chicago a firm answer on Fields' future, while Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Richardson all look great (and the Carolina Panthers, whose first-round pick the Bears own, make the playoffs).

FOX -- Rank: 25

They call Chicago the City of Broad Shoulders, and Justin Fields is going to need them to carry the weight of these expectations. I don't think there's a player in the NFL facing this much hype — which is kind of crazy considering the Bears finished with the worst record in the league last year. Hopefully, Fields makes a leap now that there's talent around him on offense. If nothing else, Bears GM Ryan Poles needs to see that, or he needs to hunt for a new QB in the spring. If Fields can answer that question, the season is a success. I know the NFC North is down, but a playoff push feels like it's at least a year away.

Yahoo! -- Rank: 27

D.J. Moore looked very good in the preseason, as did Khalil Herbert. The Bears' offense has the chance to be pretty good but that depends on Justin Fields. Packers-Bears might be the most fascinating Week 1 game.

PFT -- Rank: 21

They'll rise as far as Justin Fields can take them.

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