The Chicago Bears enter the final week of the regular season in a position where they control their own playoff destiny, but the path to that destiny is currently blocked by an old nemesis, as the Bears will potentially have to beat the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday to get into the postseason.
The Bears do have a path to the playoffs even if they can’t beat the Packers, but they would have to rely on the Los Angeles Rams to beat the Arizona Cardinals, and the Rams will be without their quarterback Jared Goff and one of their best wide receivers in Cooper Kupp.
To break down all the scenarios, we have assembled this guide to explain where things stand, and what could happen on Sunday.
The Key Games to Watch:
-Saints at Panthers 3:25 p.m.
-Packers at Bears 3:25 p.m.
-Seahawks at 49ers 3:25 p.m.
How the Bears Get In
There are two scenarios in which the Bears can get into the playoffs:
-If the Bears beat the Packers
-If the Rams beat the Cardinals
How the Bears Could be Seeded
If the Bears reach the playoffs, they can either seize the No. 6 or 7 seed.
-To get the sixth seed, the Bears will need to win AND the Cardinals will need to beat the Rams. In that scenario, the Bears and Cardinals would end the season tied, but the Bears would win the tiebreaker based on common opponents.
-To get the seventh seed, the Bears simply need to get into the playoffs.
The Bears’ Potential Opponents
If the Bears can manage to get the sixth seed in the playoffs, here are their potential opponents:
-In this scenario, the Packers would have to lose to the Bears, so that is already figured into the calculus. If the Seahawks and Saints both win, it would create a three-way tie atop the NFC standings. In that scenario, the Saints would earn the top seed thanks to their superior conference record, and in the tie between the remaining clubs, the Seahawks would earn the second seed thanks to their superior record in games against common opponents, leaving the Bears to face the Packers at Lambeau Field.
-If the Seahawks win and the Saints lose, then the Seahawks would leapfrog the Packers and earn the top seed, while the Saints would drop to the three-seed and face the Bears.
-If the Saints win and the Seahawks lose, the Seahawks would stay in the third spot and would face the Bears. Interestingly, the Saints would stay in the second seed, because they lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Packers.
If the Bears are the seventh seed in the playoffs, here are their potential opponents:
-If the Bears lose and still get into the postseason, then the Packers would have clinched the top seed, and the Bears would play the Seahawks unless Seattle wins and New Orleans loses in Week 17.
-If the Bears win, then the aforementioned scenarios with the top seed tiebreaker would need to play out. A Packers loss and wins from the Saints and Seahawks would leave the Saints in the top spot, the Seahawks in the second spot and the Packers in the third, which would pit the Bears against the Seahawks.
-If the Bears win, the Seahawks win and the Saints lose, then the Seahawks would earn the top seed and the Bears would have to face the Packers, who would then be the second seed.
-If the Bears win, the Saints win and the Seahawks lose, then the Bears would face the Saints, who would have earned the second seed.
-If the Bears win and the Saints and Seahawks both lose, then things stay the same and the Bears would face the Saints in round one.