Vikings Help Bears Lock Up Bye, NFC Playoff Picture Coming into Focus

This has been the craziest NFL season that I can ever recall.  It’s crazy enough that a supposed blizzard moved the Sunday Night Football game between the Eagles and Vikings to Tuesday night.  It’s even crazier that the double digit underdog Minnesota Vikings pulled off the upset over the Philadelphia Eagles.  With the Eagles’ loss, the Bears lock up no worse than the #2 seed in the NFC and will know going into their Sunday afternoon game against the Packers if they have a chance for the #1 overall seed in the NFC.

In order to secure the #1 seed, the Falcons would need to fall to the lowly Carolina Panthers in the Georgia Dome and the 11-4 New Orleans Saints would need to lose to the Tampa Bay Bucs.  Of course the Bears would also need to beat Green Bay, but with both of the other games tabbed for the earlier start time on Sunday, the Bears will know if they have added motivation to beat the Packers. 

Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith has built an entire coaching career in Chicago on the platform of 1) Beat Green Bay, 2) Win the division and 3) Win the Super Bowl, so it will be interesting to see if he lets up and benches his starters if there is no added incentive for the Bears.

There are still some serious playoff implications with the Bears-Packers game.  A Green Bay win locks them into the NFC’s final playoff spot, leaving the likes of the Giants and Bucs out of the playoffs regardless of their outcomes on Sunday.   Expect to have plenty of extra Bears fans on Sunday, rooting for Chicago to beat Green Bay.

As it stands right now, the NFC playoff picture looks like this:

  1. Falcons
  2. Bears
  3. Eagles
  4. Rams/Seahawks (they face on on Sunday Night football unless a monsoon hits Seattle)
  5. Saints
  6. Packers

It will be interesting to see  if the Bears let up on Sunday and allow their biggest rival into the playoff dance.  As crazy as this NFL season has been, these two could very well match up for the NFC Championship.  That would be an unforgettable Packer week!

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  • SofaKing

    If Lovie ‘rests’ the team next Sunday, not only would he be going against his #1 stated goal (beat the Packers), and allowing the Packers to come back and bite him in the playoffs, he would cement his reputation in my mind as a loser, a perennial 2nd place finisher who doesn’t have what it takes to finish strong and win. Isn’t he the one who ‘rested’ the team against the Vikes in the last game of a season and then got killed in the first playoff game.

  • City

    It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t proposition: can you imagine the firestorm if the Packers knocked Cutler out with a concussion or worse type of injury? If you remember the first game between the two, the Packers cheap shot JC at least 6 times in the game.

    And why would a decision to rest his starters make you decide now that he’s a loser? Either you think that way already (and many of us do) or it would make the most sense to see how he manages that first playoff game.

    Personally, I was on the bandwagon to fire him at the beginning of the season, and I don’t think he is a great game manager, but the one thing you have to give Lovie credit for is that his players truly respect him. Look at Coughlin in NY (and how his players are abandoning him), Phillips in Dallas, even Childress in Minnesota (could you really blame him for dragging Favre back?). The Bears players have never given up on Lovie. And I think now that he has surrounded himself with experienced game managers, he has insulated himself from making the kind of in-game mistakes that he has traditionally made.

  • Mr. Pickles

    I was also on the fire Lovie bandwagon at the start of the season but have to give credit where it is due and admit that Lovie has done a nice job this season. The fact that he is surrounding by a good coaching staff has helped enormously but like City said the fact that the team is clearly buying what Lovie is selling has kept the Bears from imploding like a few other teams. As satisfying as it would be to knock GB out of the playoffs I think “Beat Green Bay” has to go on the back burner this weekend. Going into the playoffs healthy has to be the #1 goal. This team is a Cutler/Urlacher/Peppers injury away from disaster.

  • deez

    I’m hoping that the Bears have something to play for on Sunday. I think it would be bad news if they rest the starters for most of the game and then have the extra week off. Losing momentum will kill them in the playoffs (unless they miraculously get to play the NFC West winner in the 2nd round).

    The bye was good for the Bears early in the year because they were playing poorly. I think a loss to the Packers and having basically 20 days without meaningful football can put the Bears back in the funk they were in early on.

    They are going to have to fight their way through the playoffs like they have the whole second half. I say they finish out the year on a high note (how pumped will they be beating the Packers twice and possibly keeping them out of the playoffs?)instead of resting guys and then coming out flat in the playoffs. If an injury happens, it happens. No one expected anything out of them so why not keep doing what they’ve been doing the whole second half (minus NE of course), winning games and bringing that momentum into their next game. If the Bear train loses steam i can’t see them winning a playoff game.

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