How the Bears somehow managed to alter the playoff picture

Justin Fields, Bears, NFL (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Justin Fields, Bears, NFL (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Even with only three wins, including none in their final 10 games, the Chicago Bears affected this year’s NFL playoff picture.

After improving to 3-4 with a dominant road win against the New England Patriots, it looked as though the Chicago Bears’ 2022 season wasn’t going to be as bad as many experts had predicted it to be.

Ten games later, the Bears are still a three-win team, and because of it, they own the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL draft.

But even with only three victories this season, the Bears managed to affect the playoff picture. Their three wins came against the San Francisco 49ers, the Houston Texans, and the Patriots.

The win over the Texans didn’t mean much, even though it very well could have cost the Bears the No. 1 selection in the draft, and the win over the Patriots was almost meaningful, which we’ll get into later.

However, the Bears’ win over the 49ers could affect the entire complexion of the NFC postseason.

Had the 49ers prevailed in that Week 1 matchup at Soldier Field, their final regular season record would have been 14-3, tying them with the Philadelphia Eagles at the top of the NFC. The 49ers would have finished the regular season with just one NFC loss instead of two; the Eagles finished with three.

Therefore, the 49ers would have won the tiebreaker and been awarded with the No. 1 seed in the NFC, while the Eagles would have had to settle for the No. 2 seed. The Eagles, not the 49ers, would be set to host the No. 7 seed Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round this coming Saturday afternoon.

More importantly, a potential NFC championship game between the Eagles and 49ers is slated to be played in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field. But if not for the Bears, the potential host site would be Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

The reason why the win over the Patriots was almost meaningful is because had the Patriots won, they would have been 9-8 instead of 8-9, tying them with the Miami Dolphins for the seventh and final AFC playoff spot.

However, the Dolphins would have gotten the tiebreaker anyway, as an extra non-conference win wouldn’t have benefited the Patriots much beyond improving their overall record. Both teams still would have finished 3-3 in the AFC East, and New England’s common games record with Miami would have been 6-6 instead of 5-7; Miami’s was 7-5.

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