Two days after the second great Bears collapse of 2023, the power rankings once again reflected how the NFL can be a cold, cruel world.
Many seemed to recognize Justin Fields' brilliance in the 31-26 loss to the Detroit Lions but few gave the team credit overall for going on the road against what could be a top-five team in the league, one on the rise, and dominating the game against them for over 56 minutes.
It took a perfect sequence of Lions plays and complete collapse by the Bears in the final 3 1/2 minutes to put this one in the Chicago loss column, or win column if you're looking at it from the draft/tanking perspective.
"Getting outscored 17-0 in the last four minutes of a game you were easily winning is honestly pretty embarrassing," Fox Sports' David Helman wrote in their power rankings. "But that failure is offset by a solid performance from Justin Fields."
While almost no one gave them credit for improvement, Ryan Reynolds of The 33rd Team did. They moved all the way up from 29th to 24th in defeat.
"We just saw the Bears outplay the Lions for 57 minutes," Reynolds wrote. "If Chicago can be more consistent, it can be a dangerous underdog down the stretch."
This doesn't really count for much in the grand scheme, except it's always possible wins now could be enough to save jobs at season's end.
There's no way to know yet what the thinking is with team president Kevin Warren considering he'd be overriding a move George McCaskey himself made only two years ago by telling GM Ryan Poles to fire this coaching staff.
However, losing any more games like they did against Detroit and Denver definitely can't be counted as a reason for job retention.
The NFL, after all, isn't a place where they give away playoff spots to teams who dominate 90% of a game, then blown leads to suffer narrow defeats. It's a cold, cruel world.
Here are this week's rankings.
In moving up from 29th, it wasn't just Justin Fields who caught attention. "The addition of DE Montez Sweat has noticeably improved Chicago’s four-man pass rush. The Bears' defense has kept them in a lot of games in recent weeks," Reynolds wrote.
Eric Edholm concludes with what should get them a higher spot, but really didn't in this poll: "The Bears have come a long way, but they still have to be better to finish off games."
In continuing his trend of disdain for any improvement shown, the Bears were ranked 31st and Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr blamed Matt Eberflus.
"It would be different if Eberflus was putting the Bears into good spots, but he seems to be almost actively removing them from good spots by virtue of his crunch-time decision making," Orr wrote.
The Sporting News: 28th
In ranking the Bears 28th, Vinny Iyer also saw problems ahead for Matt Eberflus, writing, "...their defensive woes could end up costing Matt Eberflus down the line."
Pro Football Talk: 29th
Matt Florio even dropped the Bears down one spot after dominating a game against one of the league's best teams, but he saw the future. Of course, as usual it's a murky one.
"Justin Fields will give them a lot to think about in the offseason," Florio wrote.
USA Today: 28th
Nate Davis kept the Bears 28th and focused on Justin Fields' return, pointing out his fifth 100-yard rushing game.
"Only (Lamar) Jackson (13 games) and Michael Vick (10) have more among quarterbacks in NFL history," he wrote.
CBS Sports: 28th
Pete Prisco saw another side to Fields' effort and it goes one step beyond the one Florio had for PFT.
"That's a good sign for him, especially since he could be auditioning for the Bears and others," Prisco wrote.
Fox Sports: 28th
The Bears moved up a spot with their loss and Helman saw Fields as silver lining in the "embarrassing" collapse.
"...at this exact moment in time, Fields' individual development is more valuable than wins," he wrote. "The challenge now is building on it."
The Bears also climbed a spot here. The weekly theme was who's on the hot seat and Velus Jones Jr. was an obvious nominee. Actually, an ejection seat might be more appropriate for him after efforts that led to being inactive the last few weeks.
Yahoo Sports: 26th
Frank Schwab rewarded the Bears with a move up two spots for their efforts, while focusing on the future beyond next week and season's end.
"With Carolina sprinting toward the No. 1 draft pick, and the Bears owning that Panthers' selection, the "what should the Bears do about Fields?" conversation will get only louder the rest of the season."
The overall tone of the week's power rankings say that as usual, there will be much more intrigue in a Bears offseason than in the regular season.