The Chicago Bears have already clinched the NFC North and still have an outside chance to lock up one of the first-round byes in the NFC Playoffs. There’s work left to be done so let’s evaluate their playoff outlook.
Catching the Saints
The New Orleans Saints are the current top seed with a 12-2 record. If the Saints lose both of their remaining games, and the Bears win Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers and in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago would own the tiebreaker because of a superior record against conference foes. That seems like an impossible scenario, but it’s still on the table.
Catching the Rams
The most realistic scenario for the Bears is the No. 2 seed. They are currently one game behind the Los Angeles Rams in the standings and Chicago owns the tiebreaker after its head-to-head triumph in Week 14. The Rams would need to lose to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday or to the 49ers in Week 17 with the Bears winning both of their final two games or some combination of wins and losses by both teams that results in a tie in the standings.
Obviously, if the Rams were to somehow lose their final two games and the Bears win just one of its final two, Chicago would surpass the Rams in the standings to become the No. 2 seed, thereby receiving the bye.
The worst-case scenario for the Bears is slipping out of the third spot, which could land Chicago in New Orleans for the Divisional Playoff if they were to survive the Wild Card round. The Bears can avoid this predicament by winning one of their final two games as they hold a two-game lead over the Dallas Cowboys. If Dallas drops either of its final games, the Bears would lock up the third spot, at the very least.
If the Bears and Cowboys were to finish the season tied at 10-6, Dallas would win the tiebreaker. If Chicago is locked into the third spot, Bears fan must ponder which matchup they prefer. A wild-card battle with the Vikings would mean back-to-back matchups after Week 17, and that would be the third meeting of the season.
Most Likely First-Round Matchup
The Seattle Seahawks are another possibility. If I’m the Bears, and we win in Week 17, I’m almost hoping to play someone else. It’s very tough to beat a team three times in a row in the NFL. Playing them in back-to-back weeks only makes the task tougher.
We’ll see how it unfolds throughout the last two weeks.