PFW associate editor Dan Parr presents a running meter that indicates the Bears' top MVP candidates through their most recent game:
(Last week's ranking in parentheses)
1. DE Julius Peppers (1): It happened in the fourth quarter, when many Bears fans already had left Soldier Field, but Peppers did extend his streak with at least one sack to four games against the Patriots. He knocked Tom Brady to the cold turf on third down for a loss of eight yards. He also broke up two passes and he leads all Bears defensive linemen in pass breakups (eight). The competition between Peppers and Brian Urlacher for the No. 1 spot is still tight with three games to play.
2. MLB Brian Urlacher (2): He has moved up the board among the league leaders in tackles over the past few weeks, making at least 10 in each of the past three games, and is ranked 12th in the category (105). He didn't have more than nine in a game prior to Week 12. Urlacher wasn't at his best Sunday. He had plenty of company in that regard, however. He was covering TE Rob Gronkowski on the rookie's touchdown catch, which was the first score of the game.
3. QB Jay Cutler (3): Bad Jay returned in Week 14. After going back-to-back games without an interception, Cutler threw two against the Patriots and he also lost a fumble deep in Bears territory, which gave New England a 1st-and-goal situation that it converted into a field goal to make it 27-0. It's hard to envision him getting any higher than third on the Meter before the season is over.
4. WR-RS Devin Hester (5): As he has done frequently this season, Hester helped a struggling offense by giving it good field position, returning a kickoff 61 yards in the third quarter. The Bears scored their only TD of the game six plays later. Hester also had two catches for 17 yards and a 17-yard punt return.
5. DE Israel Idonije (4): One of the Bears' most-improved players had a quiet Sunday, making four tackles. No one played well enough to knock Idonije out of the top five this week, but Chicago is going to need him to be more disruptive.