Pretend with me for a moment that you didn’t watch the atrocity that was the Bears’ 10-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Pretend that you can only see the NFC Playoff picture and see the Bears as the #5 seed in the NFC. That’s not so bad, is it? From CBS Sports, here is how the Bears get the #5 seed despite identical 7-5 records with the Falcons and Lions:
• Chicago finishes ahead of Detroit based on conference record (6-3 to the Lions’ 5-5).
• Chicago is the No. 5 seed ahead of Atlanta based on head to head (1-0).
• Atlanta is the No. 6 seed ahead of Detroit based on head to head (1-0).
• Seattle finishes ahead of Arizona based on head to head (1-0).
Lovie Smith, Jerry Angelo and Caleb Hanie should be sending “Thank You” cards out to the Saints, Cardinals, Packers and Texans. With the entire field of NFC playoff contenders dropping a game, it helps the Bears continue to tread water and limp (literally) their way into the playoffs.
Let’s look ahead at each contender’s remaining schedule and see if we can back the Bears into meaningful January football.
Thanks to Brad Biggs for summing this up nicely in his 10 Thoughts on Bears’ Loss to the Chiefs:
Let’s put a pin in the Bears for a moment and look at the other contenders first.
Lions (7-5): Minnesota, at Oakland, San Diego, at Green Bay
Depending on the Packers and their motivation to go for a perfect season, it”s possible that the Lions could go 4-0. It’s more likely that the Lions go 2-2 in their final four games, winning against Minnesota and San Diego and dropping road games at Oakland and Green Bay. That gets them to 9-7 and 6-6 in the conference.
Falcons (7-5): at Carolina, Jacksonville, at New Orleans, Tampa Bay
The Falcons are in a great position down the stretch. The game at New Orleans is tough, but the other games are ultimately winnable. The Falcons could get to 10-6 with wins against Carolina, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.
Cowboys (7-5): N.Y. Giants, at Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, at N.Y. Giants
The Cowboys have a tough stretch with 2 games against their main rival for the NFC East Title, the New York Giants. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that they split their series with the G-Men. The other games are very winnable. That gets to Cowboys to 10-6 as well.
Giants (6-6): at Dallas, Washington, at N.Y. Jets, Dallas
Just like with the ‘Boys, let’s assume the Giants split with Dallas. The Giants should win against the Redskins, giving them 2 more wins with the Jets game as a swing game. Since the Giants and Jets share the Meadowlands (or whatever they call that stadium now), it’s not really a road game for the Giants. The Jets are on the outside looking in for an AFC playoff shot, so it makes it a bit of an x factor. If the Giants can beat the Jets, they get to 9 wins and firmly into the playoff picture.
That brings us to the Bears. After what we saw yesterday, it’s arguable that the Bears might not win another game. But if Caleb Hanie can pull it together, the Bears still have a decent chance at a playoff berth if they can get at least 2 more wins. Here’s what they have left:
Bears (7-5): at Denver, Seattle, at Green Bay, at Minnesota
If the Bears can find a way to win 2 more measly games, they get to 9-7. If those wins come against Seattle and Minnesota (or Green Bay, hahaha), they get to 8-4 in the conference, which would put them ahead of the Lions with the same record. Of course that relies on the Lions to continue their collapse and split their final 4 games.
If the scenario’s play out, the Falcons would move into the #5 seed and push the Bears into a likely return trip to the Superdome to face the Saints or set up a trip to wine country to face the San Francisco 49ers as the #6 seed. If Cutty can get back, who knows what can happen?