Thanks to the Arizona Cardinals’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, the Chicago Bears control their own playoff destiny.
The Cardinals' loss, along with a Bears win Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, sets the stage for the Bears to have multiple clinching scenarios next week as the team looks to get back into the playoffs after missing the postseason a year ago.
The Bears have had a remarkably up-and-down season. The team won five of their first six games before losing six games in a row. They've now won three games in a row, going to 8-7 and looking to become just the third team in NFL history to make the playoffs after losing six consecutive games.
That record has them in position to potentially make it back to the postseason, and they control their own fate heading into their final game.
Here is where things stand after Sunday's action.
The Standings –
After their loss to the 49ers, the Cardinals find themselves in a tie with the Bears at 8-7.
The Bears control their own playoff destiny, as they own the tiebreaker over the Cardinals, with a superior record in games against common opponents this season.
The Los Angeles Rams, who currently sit at 9-5, can now clinch a playoff spot with a win on Sunday over the Seattle Seahawks.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinched a playoff spot Saturday by beating the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, leaving just two playoff spots up for grabs.
Clinching Scenarios –
It’s very simple for the Bears at this point. If the Green Bay Packers next week, they will make the playoffs, and there isn’t anything Arizona can do to stop them.
Even if the Bears lose next week, they still could get into the playoffs if the Cardinals lose to the Rams in the final game of the regular season.
There is a scenario in which the Bears could actually secure the sixth seed in the NFC as well. If the Rams lose their games against the Seahawks and Cardinals, and if the Bears win their final game against Green Bay, then the Cardinals would get into the postseason over the Rams thanks to their superior divisional record. The Bears would then get the sixth seed by virtue of their tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
Elsewhere in the League -
The Green Bay Packers could clinch the top seed in the NFC Sunday with a win over the Tennessee Titans and a Seahawks loss to the Rams. They have already clinched the NFC North.
The Seahawks would clinch the NFC West title with a win over the Rams this week.
In the NFC East, the Washington Football Team could clinch the division title with a win over the Carolina Panthers and losses by the New York Giants, who are playing the Baltimore Ravens, and the Dallas Cowboys, who are playing the Philadelphia Eagles.
In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs clinched the top seed with a win over the Atlanta Falcons.
The Steelers clinched their divisional crown on Sunday, scoring a remarkable comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field.
The Titans would not only clinch a playoff spot if they beat the Packers on Sunday night, but they would also clinch the division thanks to the Colts' loss in Pittsburgh.