We’ll start with the good news, which is twofold: A few days after PFW unveiled our first power rankings for the 2019 season—with the Bears opening in the top five—NBC Sports’ Peter King released his offseason power rankings, with Chicago atop the NFC North at No. 9.
King obviously knows his stuff (we like to think we do too), and in both his and our estimations, the Bears still appear to have the right stuff to again be crowned Kings of the North.
So that’s all fine and good. Of course, the only bad answers here are investing too much in May power rankings, so a (likely) obvious but still-important reminder: This is all simply fun fodder for springtime.
King writes that the Bears 'D' under first-year coordinator Chuck Pagano should benefit from a full offseason from Roquan Smith, the eighth overall pick a year ago who held out for 30 days and didn't start until Week 3, and assuming Khalil Mack regains his ironman status after enduring the first injury absence of his career last season, his fifth overall but first in Chicago. Though we don't disagree, we think King describing Smith's holdout as "ridiculously damaging" is a bit much considering he was an All Rookie and leading tackler on the best defense in football.
With a full offseason from Smith, do the Bears beat the Packers in Week 1 last season (they won their next three games as the rookie was finding his footing)? Perhaps. Aaron Rodgers absolutely targeted Smith's replacement, Nick Kwiatkoski, early and Chicago's top pick played only eight snaps before becoming essentially an every-down defender the following Sunday.
Still the biggest takeaway from King's skinny alongside the Bears ranking is this: "How good quarterback Mitch Trubisky will be in year three is shrouded in mystery, but the Bears can still be the best team in the NFC North with a quarterback who's 18th or 22nd in the league."
King goes on to say about his 10th-ranked team overall—the Minnesota Vikings—that Kirk Cousins has "got to play better in the big spot to justify $84 million guaranteed in three years." Again, we don't disagree, but by this line of thinking regarding two teams built around elite defenses, the far more established Cousins faces more pressure than the relatively unproven Trubisky. Interesting.
Nonetheless, what’s most interesting to us about King’s rankings is that the Bears are his favorites in the North, but they check in at No. 5 in the NFC (compared to being our third-rated NFC club). And though we can understand one of King’s preferences to Chicago—the Eagles—the team that checked in directly in front of Philly and two spots ahead of the Bears is fairly stunning.
We get it: There’s only one Robbie Gould, and he plays for the San Francisco 49ers. But the 49ers at No. 7, despite not winning more than seven games in any of the four years since Jim Harbaugh’s departure? That we don’t get.
King says he's "fine gambling" on Jimmy Garoppolo, whom he thinks "will be seen as a top 10 NFL quarterback if he plays a full season this year." King goes on to share Garoppolo's stats as a healthy starter and explain all that's riding on the right arm of the Niners golden one.
Perhaps it's time for another set of rankings soon: Quarterbacks of NFC playoff hopefuls facing the most pressure this season. The number of them ranked ahead of Trubisky might just be a bit higher than we initially expected.