The Bears and Packers appeared about as closely matched as two teams could be last year, when the longtime NFL rivals played three games that weren't decided until the final minute. But The Sporting News' annual list of the NFL's top 100 players indicates a bigger gap than that.
Last year both teams had three players on the list. This year the Bears have three, but the Packers have nine. And two of their repeat selections made significant jumps: quarterback Aaron Rodgers jumped from No. 13 to No. 1; and linebacker Clay Matthews went from No. 52 to No. 16.
The Bears' players in the top 100 are defensive end Julius Peppers (No. 14), middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (52) and weakside linebacker Lance Briggs (81). Peppers was unchanged from 2010. Urlacher was 70th last year. Briggs was 73rd.
The other Packers in the top 100 are cornerback Charles Woodson (33), wide receiver Greg Jennings (46), nose tackle B.J. Raji (62), tight end Jermichael Finley (73), safety Nick Collins (80), cornerback Tramon Williams (88) and guard Josh Sitton (98). All but Rodgers, Matthews and Woodson are new to the list.
Rodgers was chosen No. 1 ahead of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Manning, Brees, Titans running back Chris Johnson (No. 17 this year), Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (9) were the top 5 in 2010.
Even with Collins out for the season, the Bears still will face 57 top 100 players this season -- the most of any NFL team.