Neither the Bears nor the Titans are in this week's NFL Power Poll, but the recent developments in Chicago could greatly affect the future of each franchise.
Chicago humbled the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night as Josh McCown accounted for five TDs in a 45-28 win in the freezing cold. (Side question: When did the NFL relocate to the frozen, ice planet of Hoth from Star Wars? Sweet buckets of hypothermia, every time you looked up this weekend NFL teams are playing in snow or there is so much steam coming from the huddle you think they are surrounding a camp fire.)
Anyhoo, yes, Josh McCown accounted for five TDs. Yes, the Dallas defense will not get confused with the '85 Bears -- heck the Dallas defense is not as tough as the '85 Bears cheerleaders -- but McCown's renaissance under Mark Trestman has been eye-popping. Consider this: McCown, the 11-year vet, has thrown 1,261 yards with nine TDs and one interception in four starts since Jay Cutler went down. Considering that the Bears have a nice collection of pieces on offense and need to spend some money on defense, that means finding good value at quarterback would allow the Bears to be good quickly.
McCown is that value. Cutler is a top-10 or -12 QB in this league. He has legit arm talent, but entering free agency, he's going to look for Ryan or even Flacco money. The Titans have to find a quarterback that can make plays. The Tennessee offense is good up front, has young playmakers at wide receiver and even if they let Chris Johnson walk, Shonn Green is a solid running back.
Cutler, who played his college football at Vandy, could be the solution for each team, and return to Nashville, which is where a lot of people thought he would land, considering when Cutler entered the NFL he was the third QB drafted at No. 11 overall behind Vince Young (Tennessee at No. 3) and Matt Leinart (Arizona at No. 10).
Here's the Power Poll:
1. Denver: Does anyone have any more 'Can he throw in the cold?' questions for Mr. Peyton Manning after he went for 397 and four TDs in temperatures in the teens against Tennessee? Of course facing the Titans can be like a warm blanket and a shot of Jack Daniels in that it can cure just about anything that ails a quarterback, including playing in freezing temperatures.
2. Seattle: The most complete team in the league is just a notch below the Broncos because of the explosive ability of Manning and the Denver offense. Still, the Seahawks are a win away from sealing home-field advantage, which would be huge since QB Russell Wilson has never lost in Seattle.
3. New England: Yet another dagger delivered by the Belichick-hating injury bug. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will miss the rest of the year with an ACL tear.
4. New Orleans: The Saints can secure the NFC South with a win this weekend. Try this on for size -- the Saints were been six points better than the Falcons in the opener; the Saints are six games better than the Falcons in the standings this morning. Slight can be the difference in a day that becomes great over the course of the season.
5. Kansas City: Alex Smith has played better than Colin Kaepernick. Seriously.
Bottom five (with current projection of first-round pick)
28. Oakland (No. 5 pick overall): Here's hoping Johnny Football is on the board when the Raiders pick in the first round next May.
29. Minnesota (No. 4 pick overall): Adrian Peterson severely injured his ankle last week, and the next wave of NFL's faux hand-wringing about injuries will be about ailments to the lower body such as those suffered by Peterson and Gronkowski. Uh, guys, if you are going to fine defensive players $50-to-$100,000 for hits to the head, those guys are going to start sweeping the leg of high-profiled NFL stars.
30. Atlanta (No. 3 pick overall): Maybe Jadeveon Clowney was speeding in an effort to get to Atlanta to make sure the Falcons are still interested.
31. Washington (No first-round pick -- St. Louis gets it as part of the Robert Griffith III trade): There is no bigger dumpster fire in the NFL than Washington, which so far this year has battled Congress and Native Americans about the team's name, dealt with a series of questions about its franchise QB's health and now has a coach in Mike Shanahan that appears to be trying to get fired. And when that happens it means Washington owner Dan Snyder will be hiring his eighth coach in 16 years in the near future.
32. Houston (No. 1 overall pick): Things are so bad in Houston, the Texans are reportedly interested in Washington's coach. Yep, if you can beat them, join loses a lot of luster when you are aiming to jump from the basement to floor one.
Contact Jay Greeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.