NFC Playoff Picture: Bears Improve Standing With Big Win

The Chicago Bears kept their faint playoff hopes alive on Thursday night as they knocked off the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field by a 17-13 margin.

The win puts the Bears’ record at 5-6 on the season, with five games left to go on their schedule. That mark leaves them a game and a half out of the second wild card spot in the NFC, which is currently held by the Atlanta Falcons. The Bears are also still hanging on in the division race, but currently trail the Minnesota Vikings by two and a half games.

Those numbers don’t seem insurmountable, but there are several obstacles that are in front of Chicago if they actually have aspirations of getting into the postseason. For starters, the number of teams the Bears would have to jump is a challenge, as they would not only have to pass up the Falcons but also the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with both teams currently holding a 5-5 record on the season.

To make matters more complicated, the Bears would lose out on tiebreakers with every team that is currently in front of them in the NFC standings. The first tiebreaker for a wild card spot is head-to-head record, and the Bears would lose on that basis to the Seahawks by virtue of the 26-0 drubbing that took place in Week 3. The Bears do have a game left on the schedule against Tampa Bay, so they do control their own destiny in that regard at least.

The second tiebreaker is winning percentage in conference games, and the Bears are really behind the 8-ball in that regard. Even with their win over Green Bay on Thursday, the Bears hold a 2-5 record in NFC games this season, which means that the Falcons, Packers, and Buccaneers would all beat them on that basis.

To top everything off, the Bears’ remaining games are littered with challenges. Both the Buccaneers and Detroit Lions will pose serious challenges, as both teams seem to be finding their grooves as the season progresses. The Bears will also have to take on the Vikings up in Minneapolis, which has proven to be a tough place to play this season.

Even with all of that in mind, there are still crumbs of optimism for Bears fans to cling to. The next two weeks will provide a couple of winnable games for Chicago, as they take on San Francisco and Washington. The 49’ers are an absolute mess at the moment, with their defense struggling and their offense trying to get reset under new quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

As for the Redskins, they have been getting better production out of Kirk Cousins as of late, but the team hasn’t been able to consistently perform at a high level, and a loss to the New York Giants could put a serious dent in their playoff chances.

The Bears have also proven that they can win in hostile road environments this season, with wins in Kansas City and Green Bay on their resume. Those places are arguably tougher to play in than Minneapolis and Tampa Bay, and the Bears could conceivably carry over lessons from their earlier wins as they tackle the challenges ahead.

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