Packers still class of NFC North

"The Packers have better talent, but the Bears corners played better as a group," he said. "The Bears protected their corners better with that zone scheme, and eliminated big plays better than the Packers."

Special teams

1. Bears (19); 2. Packers (15); 3. Vikings (11); 4. Lions (5).

The Bears received four first-place votes. The man who placed them second cited the loss of Knox as a kick returner. Another scout voted the Bears first, but said he thought "their return game could fade."


1. Packers (19); 2. Bears (16); 3. Lions (10); 4. Vikings (5).

Every ballot was the same except one, in which a personnel assistant ranked the Bears first, ahead of the Packers.

His justification?

"Lovie Smith has had to deal with quarterback issues, job speculation and inconsistencies that Mike McCarthy has not," he said.

Another front office man voted the Bears staff second but said, "Lovie does a nice job. He is steady and that is a team that is well coached, well prepared and ready to play."

One more noted the Packers "took a shot losing Joe Philbin, but McCarthy can overcome it."


1. Packers (170); 2. Bears (141); 3. Lions (138); 4. Vikings (101).

What was impressive about the vote for the Packers is they finished first in six of 11 categories, including the two most would say are most important — quarterbacks and coaches.

The conclusion to draw is that as impressive as the Bears are on paper, they still are not the most impressive team in their division.

Twitter @danpompei