The Bears and the Playoffs: Keeping an Eye on the NFC Standings

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 28: Lance Briggs #55 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a sack by Julius Peppers #90 against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on November 28 2010 in Chicago Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

If the playoffs started today, the Chicago Bears would get a bye week and a guaranteed home game.

As weird as those words might sound to those who projected a less than successful season for the refreshed Monsters of the Midway, it's true. And while the season doesn't end today, the Bears are set up for a potentially very successful 2010 season.

As we go through the last few weeks of the season, we'll take a look at the playoff standings, and see what kind of movement occurs moving forward. Where will the wildcards come from? Will the West be won with a losing record? Time will tell...and we'll find out here.

Head past the jump to see the NFC standings (excluding tonight's game--a Herculean battle for the NFC West) and we'll see what's upcoming.

National Football Conference - 2010 Regular Season
  NFC Team Div W L T  Pct PF PA Net Pts TD Home Road Div Pct Conf Pct Non-Conf Streak Last 5
1. Atlanta Falcons NCS 9 2 0 .818 276 209 67 29 6-0 3-2 2-0 1.000 6-1 .857 3-1 5W 5-0
2. Chicago Bears NCN 8 3 0 .727 222 172 50 24 4-2 4-1 3-0 1.000 6-3 .667 2-0 4W 4-1
3. Philadelphia Eagles NCE 7 4 0 .636 310 257 53 34 3-2 4-2 2-1 .667 5-3 .625 2-1 1L 3-2
4. St. Louis Rams NCW 5 6 0 .455 213 231 -18 22 4-2 1-4 1-2 .333 3-5 .375 2-1 1W 2-3
5. New Orleans Saints NCS 8 3 0 .727 265 197 68 30 4-2 4-1 3-1 .750 7-2 .778 1-1 4W 4-1
6. New York Giants NCE 7 4 0 .636 277 240 37 33 4-2 3-2 1-2 .333 5-2 .714 2-2 1W 3-2
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers NCS 7 4 0 .636 219 223 -4 26 3-2 4-2 2-2 .500 5-2 .714 2-2 1L 3-2
8. Green Bay Packers NCN 7 4 0 .636 269 166 103 32 4-1 3-3 3-1 .750 5-3 .625 2-1 1L 4-1
9. Seattle Seahawks NCW 5 6 0 .455 209 275 -66 21 3-2 2-4 3-1 .750 4-3 .571 1-3 2L 1-4
10. Washington Redskins NCE 5 6 0 .455 215 262 -47 22 2-4 3-2 2-1 .667 4-4 .500 1-2 1L 2-3

Standings taken from nfl.com

We're only looking at the top 10 teams here, and even then, that's largely because the Seahawks are more than in play for the West still.

The first thing that'll jump out at you will be that the 7-4 Packers and 7-4 Buccaneers wouldn't be in if it ended today. No, Wait. The thing that will jump out is that the Rams are currently leading the West with a 5-6 record. What's worse? No matter who wins the game between the Cardinals and 49ers, the Rams will still be leading the division with a 5-6 record. There are five games left--and no guarantees that any team out there can win more than they can lose.

The NFC Wild Card spots are increasingly looking like they will come from the East and South, especially with the Falcons playing such dominating football. That means that the North may only send one contender. The Bears win and Packers loss yesterday, the Bears have bought themselves ever so tiny a cushion in leading the NFC North.

It won't be easy to hold the Packers off, though. Here's a look at each team's schedule for the rest of the season:

Packers Bears
Week 13 49ers @ LIONS
Week 14 @ LIONS PATRIOTS
Week 15 @ PATRIOTS @ VIKINGS
Week 16 GIANTS JETS
Week 17 BEARS @ PACKERS

So as you can see, the Packers have two games that it's hard not to say are gimmes, per se, over the next two weeks. They also play the Patriots, and a Giants team that is somewhat up and down.The Bears, on the other hand, play 3 division games and the two highest seeds from the AFC. This is a season that very well could come down to the last game of the season--Bears/Packers at Lambeau Field. Let's hope it doesn't come to that?

What About Those Terrible Seeds? (AKA---The WILD WILD WEST)

That's where things get tricky. Should teams with lower records make the playoffs, while teams with better records (and arguably much more difficult division schedules) sit home in January? That's the big question. What are your thoughts? Place some well-reasoned arguments about keeping the system, or going to the top 6 seeds regardless. We'll recap some of the best from each side in next weeks column.

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