Deciphering the Playoff Puzzle - NBC Chicago
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Deciphering the Playoff Puzzle



    The Bears are in the playoffs, thanks to their NFC North title.  Beyond that, no one has any idea about the playoff picture.

    It's a mess.  The Bears could end up as Seed No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3.  It depends on what happens tonight with the Eagles and Vikings.  And next week plays a part, too.

    Ideally, we'd drop to No. 5, so we'd open the playoffs against whichever godforsaken NFC West team comes out on top.  The Seahawks and Rams are falling over each other for the honor to be humiliated on national television.  That's the real prize.  Drop to No. 5 and you'll get to notch a guaranteed playoff win.  Beyond that, you're looking at the Saints, Falcons, Eagles and Packers -- teams you'd rather not face.

    There is, however, no way to fall to No. 5.  In essence, we're being punished for being good.  Yeah, a bye week would be nice.  But you know what's better than a bye week?  A victory.  If your team smothers the sacrificial lamb, you get to feel great about your team for a week.  If you get the bye, you just dread your next opponent.

    Who are we even supposed to root for or against next week?  All the NFC playoff teams (except that notable exception) are wicked dangerous.  Which of these quarterbacks are you looking forward to seeing in Soldier Field: Drew Brees, Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan?  That's like asking who's your favorite ABBA member.  Correct answer: None of them.

    The playoff picture looks like an MC Escher drawing and there's no way to tell which way is up.  Do we want to attack the Pack in the playoffs, since we have some familiarity?  Shall we take the Eagles, figuring we can stop Vick twice?  Maybe we'll hope the wind and cold will freeze up the Saints and Falcons.

    Bottom line, the season won't ever feel much better than it does now.  We're the NFC North champions.  From here on out, only one option leaves us happy - that's the Super Bowl.  Anything less than that will feel awful.  Do you look back on the 2006 team fondly?  Or does the thought leave you bitter and hollow?

    Soak up the happiness now.  Fasten your seatbelt for a wild ride into the playoffs.  Then bust out the voodoo dolls and lucky charms.  This playoff season is about to get bumpy.