The Chicago Bears are in the hunt.
Sure, they’re 5-8 and also hold the 5th pick in the NFL Draft, but that’s talk for after a Chicago loss, right now, let’s focus on the playoffs.
First of all, I want to stress this, I’ve played with the scenarios, if the Bears finish 8-9, the chances of the playoffs are so remote they aren’t even worth discussing. The Bears are going to struggle with multiteam tiebreakers so if we want to discuss the playoffs, the Bears need to run the table.
Right now there are two wild card spots open and there are three teams from the NFC North, NFC South and two in the NFC West in the mix for just three spots (the two wild cards and the NFC South division title). It’s a big mess, and it won’t get sorted out in one week. But here’s what needs to happen for the Bears' best-case scenario:
Chicago Bears defeat Cleveland Browns
Importance Scale (4 star-scale): ****
This one is a no-brainer. If you’re going to run the table, you need to win every game. I think if the Bears win this one, the playoff conversation can get real because their next two games are at home against very winnable teams (Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons) and if you get to 8-8, then we can start talking about that Green Bay Packers game in week 18. But for now, go beat a good Cleveland Browns team on the road, and then we can get real serious.
Cincinnati Bengals defeat Minnesota Vikings (Saturday)
Importance Scale: ***
As I played with different playoff scenarios, the Vikings are a team that is going to factor in as a thorn in the side of the Bears. This game is in Cincinnati and the Bengals are currently favored by three. The Bears really need Jake Browning to come through again and get this victory.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat Green Bay Packers
Importance Scale: **
The Packers are another team that’s going to be a thorn in the Bears playoff hopes based on the tiebreaking scenarios, but with this both being 6-7 teams facing each other, the Bears are sort of in a no lose situation here because one of these teams is moving to .500 while the other falls into a tie with the Bears at 6-8. Without question, it’s better for the Bucs to win this one though, so it shouldn’t be too hard to cheer against the Cheeseheads up North.
New York Giants defeat New Orleans Saints
Importance Scale: *
The Saints are playing poorly right now and the Giants are playing well so this is definitely one that could easily go in the Bears favor. The Giants are also 5-8 like the Bears and have a small glimmer of playoff hopes so while it’s beneficial for the Giants to win this one and knock the Saints down a peg in the standings, the Bears also don’t want the Giants to gain too much more momentum. Luckily the Giants have to play the Eagles twice so that should take care of New York anyway.
Carolina Panthers defeat Atlanta Falcons
Importance Scale: No stars
This isn’t going to happen, and it isn’t that big of a deal being the Bears play the Falcons and can hang their 8th loss on them on New Year’s Eve. The Falcons look to be in an even less advantageous situation than the Bears are in terms of multiteam tiebreakers so this isn’t really one that needs to happen. If you’d rather cheer for the Falcons in this game and keep the Panthers at one win, totally acceptable here. It’s almost not worth putting on the viewers guide but the Falcons are at 6-7 so they have to be considered.
Washington Commanders defeat Los Angeles Rams
Importance Scale: ***
As Bears fans, it’s time to dislike the LA Rams as much as the Green Bay Packers. When you work through scenarios, the Rams are a problem right now if they finish 9-8. The Rams have Washington and the Saints at home, followed by a road game against the NY Giants and they finish with the 49ers in San Francisco, but that could be a week 18 game where the 49ers don’t have anything to play for, we will have to see how that unfolds. As you can see, it’s a manageable schedule for the Rams so while this will be a long shot, the Bears really need the Rams to somehow go 2-2 down the stretch, 3-1 is going to cause problems.
Philadelphia Eagles defeat Seattle Seahawks (Monday)
Importance Scale: **
The Seahawks will most likely lose a tiebreaker to the Chicago Bears, and obviously they will most likely lose this game to the Eagles but being that it’s in Seattle, it’s not impossible for the Seahawks to win this one. Seattle sits at 6-7 as well, and getting them their 8th loss this week would be clutch, as they finish with the Titans, Steelers and Cardinals so getting that 8th loss now will relieve some stress for Bears fans for sure.