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Bears/Postseason

Just some info on the situations for the Bears to make the playoffs.


The Bears (9-4) lock up no worse than a playoff berth Sunday if they win over Atlanta while the Giants lose at home to Kansas City and the Cowboys lose at Washington.

By defeating the Falcons, the Packers in Green Bay and the Vikings in Minnesota, the Bears would be guaranteed one of two first-round playoff byes and would then host a divisional-round game the following weekend.

But the Falcons are one of nine NFC teams that can finish 10-6 or better, including the 11-2 Seahawks, the only NFC team that already has clinched a playoff spot.

If the Bears don't hold off the Vikings to win the NFC North, any of the rest of the contenders could wind up tied with them for one of six postseason berths that might have to be decided by tiebreakers.

The Bears are in excellent shape in two of the critical tiebreaking criteria: division record and conference record. The Bears are 4-0 in the NFC North and 8-1 in the NFC.

Fortunately for the Bears, 3 of their 4 losses have been to AFC teams, including Sunday's 21-9 loss at Pittsburgh.

It's simple: the Bears can't win a 10-6 tiebreaker with the Vikings if they lose to the Packers. The Bears can't lose a 10-6 tiebreaker if they beat the Packers. Both scenarios assume a Vikings win over the Bears to even up their head-to-head record, the first tiebreaker. If the Bears lose to the Packers, Minnesota could finish with a better division record. The next tiebreaker is common games and the Vikings can't catch them that way. The Bears can't win a 9-7 tiebreaker with the Vikings, so if their Sunday loss in Pittsburgh starts a habit, the Bears had better hope the Vikings lose to the Steelers too, this Sunday at home, or to the Ravens the following week in Baltimore to keep that one-game edge. The Steelers can thank the Bears for allowing them back into the AFC playoff race and can now repay the favor by knocking off the Vikings in Minnesota. If you can follow all that, you have the keys to the NFL playoff universe. The Bears can clinch at least a wild-card playoff berth Sunday by beating Atlanta if the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys both lose.