NFC Playoff Picture: Week 15 Edition

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Here’s how the Bears playoff hopes shape up headed into week 15.

The Chicago Bears really made a statement last week with their victory over the Los Angeles Rams. With it, they helped bring their playoff situation into a much clearer picture.

The Bears are now on the cusp of earning their first playoff berth since Lovie Smith was coaching the team, not only that, that are just as close as earning their first division title since 2010.

Let’s take a closer look at the Bears’ positioning in the playoffs with three games to go.

First-Round bye?

Not so fast. In this case, the loss to the New York Giants is pretty crushing. The Bears have the tie breakers with both the Rams and the New Orleans Saints (if they tie at 12-4) so if the Bears win out and the Saints or Rams stumble down the stretch, the Bears will jump into a bye.

However, the fact is the Bears are, in essence, 1.5 games back of a bye with three to play. It’s almost insurmountable and shouldn’t be considered an option at this point. Beat the Packers and let’s see the Rams lose to the Eagles and/or the Saints lose to the Panthers this week. If that happens, we can begin to have that conversation.

Three seed?

This should be the goal at this point. The Bears are in the driver’s seat for the three seed but they have to hold off the Cowboys who are hot. The Cowboys are going to hold the tiebreaker against the Bears if they tie them up for overall record. If they tie at 11-5, the Cowboys will have the better conference record. If they tie at 10-6, the Cowboys will have the better conference record if they lose to the Colts, and if they lose to an NFC team and conference record is tied, the Cowboys will hold the next tie breaker, strength of victory.

First things first, the Bears need to make sure they wrap up the division, once that’s done, they can focus on the 3-seed vs the 4-seed (unless somehow the door pops open for the 2-seed).

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Winning the Division

This will almost certainly happen, and could happen as early as Sunday. If the Bears win, they win the division, period. That’s all it takes. If the Bears lose and the Vikings lose to the Miami Dolphins, they win the division. Again, that’s it. The magic number with the Minnesota Vikings is 1. They are incredibly close to accomplishing something that only a few people thought was possible a few months ago.

Earning a Playoff Berth

If the Bears just need to defeat the Green Bay Packers to win the division, obviously, the same holds true for a playoff berth. The larger conversation is if the Bears lose and the Vikings win.

If that scenario happens, the Bears can’t win the division this week, and they’ll have to try again in week 16 against the San Francisco 49ers.

If the Bears lose and the Vikings win, the Bears can still wrap up a guaranteed playoff spot though. The Bears will have the tie breaker over both the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles which means they just need a Washington Redskins loss to lock up a playoff berth.

The Bears are so close to a playoff spot. It’s almost certainly going to happen this weekend, and that’s a beautiful thing to think about.