According to the New York Times’ interactive playoff simulator, there are 1 septillion different ways the NFL’s regular season can end – and “far too many” scenarios in which the Chicago Bears can make the playoffs. Seriously.
It might take some sort of cosmic awakening for it to happen, but the Bears’ playoff odds aren’t technically dead just yet (Michael: but let’s just say they’ve already called the family in from out of town).
Sure, they’re pretty close to zero, and it feels like the idea of a playoff run died when the team couldn’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, but ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson lines up what needs to happen for the Bears to make their first playoff appearance since winning the NFC North in 2010, so you’ll want to give it a read.
In short, it starts with the Bears winning each of their final five games, beating the San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, and Minnesota Vikings. That would put the Bears at 8-8 and give the team its first non-losing season since 2013. Of course, that’s not the only thing that would need to happen as the Bears would need some help from a number of other teams, as well.
In addition to stringing together the team’s first five-game winning streak since 2012, the Bears would need the Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and Detroit Lions – each of whom is in a playoff position right now – to lose out. Chicago would also need the following teams with more wins to falter down the stretch, too: Washington, Dallas, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, and Arizona.
Thinking logically, a Bears playoff run would likely mean things like Mitch Trubisky developing at an accelerated pace and lifting his teammates to new performance levels, Jordan Howard re-capturing his 2016 Pro Bowl form, the offensive line living up to its preseason top-5 billing, the defense getting healthy and living up to its top-3 billing, Tarik Cohen taking major steps forward as a return specialist, and some number of wide receivers and tight ends having unforeseen breakouts.
But considering how the Bears have won their three games this season, these occurrences seem less likely than the team stringing together five straight wins. Especially since the team has won consecutive games just three times in the John Fox era.
Still, the Bears haven’t technically been eliminated from the playoffs … yet.