Can the Bears make the playoffs this year? It’s the question on Chicago’s lips after the Bears won their second game in a row with their convincing victory against the Lions at Soldier Field on Sunday.
To cut to the chase, the answer is yes.
The Bears currently sit at 5-8, good for 12th place in the NFC. If the Packers lose to the Giants on Monday, then five teams will be tied for seventh place with a 6-7 record– the Packers, Rams, Seahawks, Falcons and Saints– and the Bears would be just one game behind that pack. That’s important since the seven seed is the final playoff spot. If the Packers win, however, the Bears would be two games behind the Packers and Vikings, who would be tied with a 7-6 record.
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If you want to get crazy, the Bears are technically still in contention for an NFC North title. If the Bears win out, they’ll finish with a 9-8 record. If the Lions lose out, they’ll also finish at 9-8. From there, tiebreakers take over. The Bears and Lions split their head-to-head matchups, so next up would be the teams’ respective win percentages against the NFC North. As things stand, the Bears are 2-3 against their division rivals with one game remaining. The Lions are 2-2 against NFC North opponents with two games remaining.
But the fact of the matter is talking playoffs now is a little crazy.
Check this. Per NFL.com, between 1990 and the start of this season, 103 teams started the year with an 0-4 record. Of those 103 teams, only one made the playoffs: the 1992 San Diego Chargers. The Chargers ended up 11-5 that year and lost to the Dolphins 31-0 in the Divisional Round.
Not great odds for the Bears after their disastrous start to the season.
Yes, the Bears have played better football lately, and with such little joy over the past two years for Bears fans it’s worth celebrating. But a two-game win streak is typically not a high bar for NFL franchises. Yes, the Bears have separated themselves from the truly awful teams in the NFL, but they’re still not contenders in the conference.
With a month to go it’s fun to dream, but keep in mind that the Bears have five teams between them and a playoff berth. That’s a lot of ground to make up to earn a postseason bid.