Bears

NFL Power Rankings - Week 14: Dangerous Bengals

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NFL Power Rankings - Week 14: Dangerous Bengals

Each week throughout the regular season, we'll be rankingall 32 NFL teams.

Take a look and offer up your thoughts inthe comment box below or to us on Twitter @BearsTalkCSN.

Previousrankings: Week1 Week2 Week3 Week4 Week5 Week6 Week7 Week8 Week9 Week10 Week11 Week12 Week 13

SKJF Comments 1 SK: Despite injuries, Texans just keep getting it done.
JF: Schaub has the Texans in the playoffs, but how long can they last? 2 SK:Wasn't expecting that defensive performance against the Saints.
JF: Remained perfect at home with impressive defensive performance vs. Saints.
3 SK: Peyton Manning has the Broncos reliving their dominating days from the 90's.
JF: Continue to win in different ways as others find new ways to lose.
4 SK:Another AFC East title for the Patriots.
JF: Manning to Thomas is looking a lot like Manning to Harrison used to.
5 SK:Will Harbaugh go back to Smith this weekend?
JF: Held off the Vikings to pick up eighth win. Sitting in a really good spot.
6 SK: Losing Starks should hurt, but the Packers don't seem to be bothered by injuries.
JF: Tough loss to pesky Rams, but the Niners have to get back on the horse.
7 SK: Can't be considered elite if you lose to Charlie Batch at home.
JF: Should not have lost to the banged up Steelers. RG3 & red-hot 'Skins up next.
8 SK:Questions marks with the defense? Didn't see this coming three weeks ago.
JF: They are immune to losses right now.
9 SK: Another come-from-behind late game victory for Andrew Luck.
JF: Apparently they weren't as good as they appeared to be against the Packers.
10 SK: Could be the most dangerous team in the AFC if they reach the postseason.
JF: The Bengals defense is nothing to sneeze at. Telling game this week vs. Cowboys.
11 SK:Russell Wilson has made me a believer.
JF: Proved they can win with a little bit of offense and a whole lot of defense.
12 SK: RGIII, just wow. Can't say enough good things.
JF: Proved they can lose with a little bit of offense and a whole lot of defense.
13 SK:There has never been a team I've been more confused by.
JF: Don't look now, but the Redskins are clamoring for a playoff spot.
14 SK: Have the Buccaneers fallen back to earth?
JF: Inspired play from Charlie Batch was the difference against the Ravens.
15 SK:Who was that young gun at QB that led the Steelers to a victory?
JF: Led the Broncos at the half last week, but couldn't keep up in the second half.
16 SK:As must win as it gets in Cincinnati this weekend.
JF: Took the season series vs. 49ers, now need to improve against everyone else.
17 SK:Losing Harvin for the season hurts Vikings playoff' chances.
JF: Apparently they have a running back that no one can stop. Yet they still lose?
18 SK:Saints season looks to be bleak.
JF: Maybe Tannehill can get back on track in San Francisco. Nah, probably not.
19 SK: Will be a playoff team next season. Book it.
JF: Must-win game in Cincinnati for Cowboys.
20 SK:Beat the Jags, but who hasn't?
JF: Brees won't play as bad as he did in Atlanta the rest of his career.
21 SK:What has happened to their once promising season?
JF: Crushed the Jags and now try to keep slim playoff hopes alive vs. Rams.
22 SK: Greg McElroy, your table is ready.
JF: Continue to look brilliant at times on offense, but manage to foul it up at the end.
23 SK:Promising future. Could be a scary team to deal with down the stretch.
JF: Browns finally got a win on the road. Must beat KC this week at home.
24 SK: Situation still a mess in Detroit.
JF: One point better than the Cardinals.
25 SK: I'll say it again, Has Norv Turner been fired yet?
JF: One point worse than the Jets.
26 SK: Why do they have Jake Locker throwing so many passes?
JF: Will the Chargers win any of their remaining four games? Outlook not so good.
27 SK:Losing skid could hit nine this week.
JF: 45 passes from Locker in a 24-10 loss last week is a sign of what not to do.
28
SK:Could these be Ron Rivera's final three games as an NFL head coach?
JF: Brown is filling in nicely for McCoy, but the Eagles are DONE.
29 SK:Tim Tebow to Jacksonville in 2013? Hey, why not?
JF: I've soured on the Panthers rather quickly.
30 SK: Misery in Philly. At least Bryce Brown has been a bright spot.
JF: I guess we gave Chad Henne too much credit.
31 SK:Emotional victory for Kansas City. Good to see Brady Quinn getting a chance.
JF: KC gets a win and moves out of the basement.
32 SK:More than likely will have double-digit losses after Thursday's game against DEN.
JF:Home loss to Browns has the Raiders searching for answers.

How Tarik Cohen is thriving as the Bears continue to put more on his plate

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USA Today

How Tarik Cohen is thriving as the Bears continue to put more on his plate

Mitchell Trubisky shook his head and grinned when he fielded yet another question this week about the touchdown pass Tarik Cohen threw against the Baltimore Ravens.

“Dang, you guys can’t get enough of this,” Trubisky said. “I talked about it after the game. Dowell (Loggains) was saying it was the best pass of the game. I’m like, ‘All right, geez, let him play quarterback.

“… He threw a dime ball. I love how he was fading away on it and celebrating on the 50-yard line. Zach (Miller) made a great catch. So A-plus; really impressive spiral, especially with the gloves on. Can’t count any of that out. Tarik’s a special player and it was an awesome throw.”

The point here is less about Cohen’s throw and more about the Bears finding yet another way for the rookie running back to make an impact. So far this year, Cohen has rushed 50 times, caught 26 passes, returned 14 punts and now thrown that historic touchdown. He’s been asked to block in pass protection more frequently, allowing him to be on the field more. And he’s worked with wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni and Kendall Wright (who Cohen referred to as another receiver coach for him) to expand his route tree, leading him to be the most-targeted player (33 targets) on the Bears through six weeks. 

That may seem like a lot to put on the plate of a fourth-round draft pick from an FCS school, but it hasn’t been too much for Cohen. 

“We need Tarik to be that guy for us — the best playmaker we have,” Loggains said. “There’s no secret there. And he’s a guy who we’ll continue to use, and people are aware of him. So how creative can we get with him? How many different things can we do with him? 

“Like, we’re stretching him. Mentally, he’s stretched to the max playing all these positions — motioning out to wide receiver, playing running back and doing more in the backfield with more carries. So we have to keep stretching him and keep using him in the offense.”

Opposing defenses have keyed on Cohen since his explosive debut Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, scheming to muffle his playmaking ability. But he still managed to nearly have a walk-off 73-yard run against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3, and then in Week 6, with defenses figuring they could crash down on him on sweep plays to the edge, he (literally) threw another wrinkle into how to gameplan against him. The next time the Bears run a toss sweep to Cohen, opposing safeties will have to think twice about bolting toward the line of scrimmage to stop him. 

Every time Cohen seems to hit a rookie wall, he and the Bears find a way to knock it down. The discussion a week ago about Cohen was that he was dancing too much and not cutting upfield quick enough; this week, it’s all about his perfect quarterback rating. 

“Our coaches do a good job of continuing to put him in places so he can be successful,” fellow running back Benny Cunningham said. “But ultimately I feel like he has such a genuine love of the game, I don’t see that happening (hitting the wall). Since the day he’s been here, from Day 1 to today, I’ve seen no drop-off in his desire to be successful and to help this offense.”

The Bears have known this about Cohen's mentality since they scouted and drafted him back in the spring, and his potential only blossomed after getting him into Halas Hall in May — “Early on, we knew Tarik was going to be pretty special,” coach John Fox said. But Cohen wouldn’t be able to reach that potential without the ability to handle the responsibilities of all the different tasks the Bears have asked of him so far. 

Cohen’s ability to do so many different things makes him an important player for this team, and his ability to do them with an exciting, playmaking flair has made him a fan favorite since training camp. So what’s next for the 5-foot-6 rookie?

“I think we’ve got something — I’ll punt the ball this week,” Cohen joked. “Naw, I’m playin’. I can’t put the ball for nothing, I don’t think. It’ll probably go like 20 yards.”

The Bears defense is trending up, and could get Nick Kwiatkoski back as soon as this weekend

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USA Today

The Bears defense is trending up, and could get Nick Kwiatkoski back as soon as this weekend

Nick Kwiatkoski was a full participant in Bears practice on Friday, marking the first time the second-year linebacker has done that since he suffered a pec injury Sept. 17 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, Kwiatkoski sounded confident he could make his return five weeks after suffering that painful injury. 

“It’s not really my decision,” Kwiatkoski said. “I’m preparing like I am, so we’ll see. … “In my head I am (playing). But we’ll see.”

The Bears’ defense, despite placing three key players — linebackers Willie Young and Jerrell Freeman and safety Quintin Demps — on injured reserve, has been solid at worst so far this year. Pro Football Focus has Vic Fangio’s group as the third-best defense in the NFL through Week 6, behind only the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars. 

While Christian Jones played some quality snaps next to Danny Trevathan (and John Timu — he struggled after Timu’s injury against Minnesota), Kwiatkoski represents an upgrade at inside linebacker. The Bears liked what Kwiatkoski did last year in place of an injured Trevathan, and were confident they wouldn’t miss a beat with him filling in after Freeman’s Week 1 injury. 

“He’s a smart guy who has been willing to work,” coach John Fox said. “And I’ve seen that improvement from last year to this year. And anytime you get whacked or injured or taken out for some reason, you’ve got to kind of regain that again. It’s like a do-over. So he has had a good week.”

Kwiatkoski stayed sharp by going through meetings and film study as if he were playing while that pec injury — which he said felt like a “bad pulled muscle” — kept him sidelined for practices and games. If Kwiatkoski indeed is active and/or starting Sunday against Carolina, the hope is he can step in and pick up where he left off in Week 2. 

“I have all the confidence that he'll do fine,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said prior to Kwiatkoski’s injury. And that confidence, in all likelihood, still exists.