NFL Power Rankings: Bears and Panthers have company in race to bottom

The Bears own the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2024 after general manager Ryan Poles traded them the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft. The best way to ensure that pick ends up as high as possible is to beat the Panthers on Thursday.

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Panthers coach Frank Reich

Panthers coach Frank Reich looks on before a preseason game.

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Panthers coach Frank Reich huddled his players Monday and acknowledged what they have been through this season. At 1-7, they have the second-worst record in the NFL.

‘‘Sometimes when you get in this position, you look back and you want to change some things that are happening,’’ Reich told Panthers reporters. ‘‘You wish somehow you could double down: ‘Hey, let’s put it all in this one game. Let’s double-down on everything, get it all back.’

‘‘But that’s not real life. That’s not real life in the NFL.’’

For the Bears, however, their game Thursday against the Panthers is worth doubling-down on. The Bears own the Panthers’ first-round pick in the 2024 draft after general manager Ryan Poles traded them the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft. The best way to ensure that pick ends up as high as possible is for the Bears to beat the Panthers.

Were the season to end today, the Bears (2-7) would draft second and third overall, with the Panthers’ original pick the higher of the two. The Panthers’ pick, however, has a much greater chance of being the Bears’ golden ticket to draft USC quarterback Caleb Williams or North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye in the top two. Simulating the rest of the season 10,000 times, ESPN calculated that the Panthers’ pick has a 31.5% chance to land at No. 1 overall; the Bears’ own pick has only a 5.9% chance to be first.

Both teams have competition in the race to the bottom. The last-place Cardinals (1-8) have lost eight games in a row since winning their opener and have ESPN’s best odds to draft first. They’re expected to start once-upon-a-time star Kyler Murray at quarterback Sunday.

The Giants are 2-7 and figure to turn to undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito, who played last season at Illinois, with Daniel Jones out for the season with a torn knee ligament. The Patriots share the Bears’ and Giants’ record and have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL. And the 3-6 Rams, who have the NFL’s sixth-worst record and an injured quarterback in Matthew Stafford, just signed Carson Wentz, who has won only two games since the end of 2021.

Elsewhere around the league:

• The Bengals might be the best last-place team in football history. They’re technically fourth in the AFC North, but only four teams in the league have better Super Bowl odds.

• Maybe the football gods exist. The Texans actually tried to win their 2022 season finale and did, and they wound up landing quarterback C.J. Stroud, who looks like the keeper among the 2023 draft class.

• Watching quarterback Josh Dobbs gather his new linemen to teach him his cadence on the sideline and lead the Vikings to victory Sunday was one of the NFL’s best moments all year.

Here are the power rankings after Week 9:

1. Eagles (8-1)

They survived two scares: Jalen Hurts’ knee and Cowboys.

2. Chiefs (7-2)

They haven’t had a losing streak in two seasons.

3. Ravens (7-2)

They’ve outscored teams by 81 in a four-game win streak.

4. 49ers (5-3)

From Weeks 6-8, Brock Purdy ranked 37th in passer rating.

5. Dolphins (6-3)

They’re 0-3 against teams with winning records.

6. Bengals (5-3)

They’ve won four-straight and Joe Burrow looks like himself.

7. Lions (6-2)

Look for ex-Bear David Montgomery to return this week.

8. Jaguars (6-2)

Their game Sunday vs. the 49ers is must-watch.

9. Cowboys (5-3)

CeeDee Lamb the last two games: 23 catches for 349 yards.

10. Browns (5-3)

The 58 yards allowed Sunday were the third-fewest in team history.

11. Bills (5-4)

They’ve alternated wins and losses for six weeks.

12. Seahawks (5-3)

They had only 15 carries for 28 yards Sunday.

13. Steelers (5-3)

Mike Tomlin’s team has been outscored by 30 but has a winning record.

14. Chargers (4-4)

After torching the Bears, Justin Herbert had a 62 passer rating vs. Jets.

15. Texans (4-4)

Will rookie C.J. Stroud (470 pass yards) haunt the Bears for years?

16. Saints (5-4)

They have two winning teams left on their schedule.

17. Vikings (5-4)

They haven’t lost a game since Oct. 8.

18. Jets (4-4)

Aaron Rodgers is cocky enough to think he can recover this fast.

19. Falcons (4-5)

The Taylor Heinicke experience felt a lot like the Desmond Ridder one.

20. Buccaneers (3-5)

Since beating the Bears, they’re 1-5.

21. Titans (3-5)

QB Will Levis was named their full-time starter Tuesday.

22. Broncos (4-5)

They were 0-3 before the Bears game and 3-2 since.

23. Colts (4-5)

Kenny Moore became the first Colt to post two pick-sixes in a game.

24. Commanders (4-5)

After trading their best two defenders, they held Mac Jones to a 66.5 passer rating.

25. Raiders (4-5)

They follow up Josh McDaniels’ firing by winning by 24.

26. Packers (3-5)

They got their first win since Oct. 24.

27. Rams (3-6)

The bye comes at a perfect time; Matthew Stafford’s hurt.

28. Patriots (2-7)

Bill Belichick hasn’t been 2-7 since 2000.

29. Giants (2-7)

Daniel Jones’ knee injury makes them prime tanking candidates.

30. Bears (2-7)

The Bears had as many giveaways Sunday as the Texans have all year.

31. Panthers (1-7)

Bryce Young and Tyson Bagent each threw three picks Sunday.

32. Cardinals (1-8)

Starting Clayton Tune on Sunday made it feel like they were in tank mode.

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