The Minnesota Vikings won over the Arizona Cardinals today, confirming their spot atop the NFC North. To catch up with them, the Bears need to not only win their final games against the Packers and Texans, but also a little help from their friends, the Falcons and the Giants. Those two teams will play Minnesota in the next two weeks, and need to pull out a win for the Bears to make it to the playoffs. Bears fans have to get behind Atlanta and New York if we want to see Chicago play in January.
If you're the kind of fan who holds grudges, you'll need to let go of the heartbreaking loss the Falcons laid upon the Bears. Remember that one? It wasn't so long ago. The Bears engineered a comeback just to have the Falcons pull ahead with11 seconds left in the game. Since that win, the Falcons racked up a record of 9-5 and are in the hunt for a wild card playoff bid. Quarterback Matt Ryan has put together a Rookie-of-the-Year caliber season, passing for more than 3100 yards. Their running defense isn't impressive, so Adrian Peterson is likely to have another banner day next Sunday. But with a strong performance from Ryan, the Falcons can pull out the win that they need as badly as the Bears do.
The Vikings final game against the Giants is much more of a concern for Chicago. New York has already clinched their division and will likely have home field advantage locked up by the final game. The defending Super Bowl champions have been on a tear this season, losing just two games. Coach Tom Coughlin wouldn't be out of line to save his best players for the playoffs, which could hurt the Bears. If Coughlin decides that he wants to head into the playoffs with momentum and give the home town fans a show, Chicago could be headed to postseason play.
The Bears put themselves in the unenviable position of relying on the Falcons and Giants to bring them into the playoffs. The good news is that those two teams both have an excellent chance of beating the Vikings.