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The Bears and the Playoffs: The Standings after (most of) Week 15

Well, it was a nail-biter, but some astoundingly poor situation management at the end of the game did ensure the Packers loss to the Patriots in Foxboro last night.

So it's simple, right? The Bears win tonight, and they are the NFC North Champions.

There's so much more going on in the playoff race, though. Atlanta won again. Philly beat the G-Men. The Lions dealt a heartbreaker to the Buccaneers in Tampa. Additionally, it looks increasingly more likely that a team will make it into the playoffs with a losing record.

The NFL--ya gotta love it.

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 12 2 0 .857 369 261 108 41 6-0 6-2 4-0 1.000 9-1 .900 3-1 8W 5-0
2. Philadelphia Eagles NCE 10 4 0 .714 412 339 73 46 4-2 6-2 4-1 .800 7-3 .700 3-1 3W 4-1
3. Chicago Bears NCN 9 4 0 .692 253 228 25 28 4-3 5-1 4-0 1.000 7-3 .700 2-1 1L 4-1
4. St. Louis Rams NCW 6 8 0 .429 258 295 -37 25 4-3 2-5 2-2 .500 4-6 .400 2-2 2L 2-3
5. New Orleans Saints NCS 10 4 0 .714 354 270 84 41 5-2 5-2 3-1 .750 8-2 .800 2-2 1L 4-1
6. New York Giants NCE 9 5 0 .643 360 288 72 44 5-3 4-2 2-3 .400 7-3 .700 2-2 1L 3-2
7. Green Bay Packers NCN 8 6 0 .571 333 220 113 39 5-1 3-5 3-2 .600 6-4 .600 2-2 2L 2-3
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers NCS 8 6 0 .571 280 290 -10 32 3-4 5-2 2-3 .400 6-4 .600 2-2 1L 2-3
9. Seattle Seahawks NCW 6 8 0 .429 279 363 -84 30 4-3 2-5 3-2 .600 5-5 .500 1-3 2L 1-4

standings from nfl.com-Home of the NFL on the web.

At this point, the top 6 are just about decided. Their positions, however, aren't. Let's take a look at some of the key matchups of week 16 (and this last one of Week 15.)

Week 15

Bears at Vikings
Bears win, division is theirs. If not, live to play another day.

Week 16

Jets at Bears
Jets need it to keep themselves alive in their playoff race, Bears want it to help secure a bye week.
Kev's Early Pick: Bears

Saints at Falcons
The Saints need this win if they want to try and win their division. While they are guaranteed a playoff spot with one win over the next two weeks, they'd like to take it all. However, winning the division would require the Falcons to lose in Week 17 as well, which is unlikely, given their opponent, the Carolina Panthers.
Kev's Early Pick: Falcons

Giants at Packers
The Packers need to win out to get a shot at the Wild Card, so they'll be playing hungry. Will the Giants be able to bounce back from an absolutely devestating loss to the Eagles? That remains to be seen, but if their pass rush can get to Rodgers and/or Flynn early, it certainly gives them a chance. The Packers just went toe-to-toe with (arguably) the best team in the league, and proved they can still play. It should be a game for the ages. The Giants are also still in play for their division, whereas that may not be an option for the Packers pending tonight's game.
Kev's Early Pick: Giants

Vikings at Eagles
Eagles at home, to stay alive in the dvision race? I'm taking Vick every time.
Kev's Early Pick: Eagles

Seahawks at Buccaneers
If the Bucs can win out, and the Saints lose to the Falcons, they could still have a chance at the WC. Seattle is, against all odds, still in the race for their division, and have a head to head with StL in week 17.
Kev's Early Pick: Bucs

49ers at Rams
Rams would like to win out, as the 49ers or Seahawks would take them in any tiebreakers that might occur. This is a mind-numbing race to mediocrity, and I think it'd be hard to fear too much from these teams in Round 1.
Kev's Early Pick: Rams

Hopefully, the outcome of Week 16 will allow us to shake most of this thing out--it's been a rough, confusing few weeks to the playoffs, but those January games should be interesting.