We now know that the Bears will be in the NFL’s playoff party. They clinched their first trip to the playoffs and their first NFC North Division championship last Sunday by beating the Packers 24-17 at Soldier Field.
The next goal over these final two weeks of the regular season is to try to make a run at one of the top two playoff spots in NFC and earn a first round bye.
The Bears need to overtake the Saints and the Rams to do that. The Saints are currently in the top spot with a 12-2 record. The Rams are a game behind at 11-3 and then come the Bears at 10-4. Keep in mind if the Bears and Rams finish with the same record the Bears will have the tiebreaker because they beat the Rams head-to-head two weeks ago.
The Saints’ remaining games will be both be at home. They host the Steelers this week and then they’ll host the Panthers.
The Rams figure to have it easy in their final two games against the Cardinals and the 49ers. Those two teams have a combined record of 7-21. Both of those games will be in warm weather climates so that works to the Rams’ advantage.
For now the Bears will focus on what they can control. That’s a game this Sunday at San Francisco. The 49ers are only 4-10, but hey they have won their last two games over the Seahawks and the Broncos. The win over the Seahawks was especially impressive considering the Seahawks had won their previous four games.
49ers quarterback Nick Mullens won’t strike fear into anyone…certainly not the Bears defense, but Mullens was solid last week passing for 275 yards and a touchdown. The one player on the 49ers who might pose the biggest threat to the Bears is former Bear Robbie Gould. He’s having an outstanding season at the age of 36. He has made 29 of 30 field goal attempts including the game-winner in overtime last week.
The biggest key for the Bears this week and next week is to avoid major injuries so that they have everyone ready to go for the playoffs. By the way its interesting to note that the oddsmakers now list the Bears’ odds of advancing to and winning the Super Bowl at 16-1. At the start of the season those odds were 80-1.
In addition to their playoff birth and division championship the Bears have something else to celebrate. Five of the guys have been elected to play in the Pro Bowl. Khalil Mack makes the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career. Akiem Hicks makes his first Pro Bowl team. Safety Eddie Jackson lands on the Pro Bowl team for the first time and so does cornerback Kyle Fuller. Tarik Cohen makes it for the first time as a return specialist.
That’s the most Pro Bowlers the Bears have had since 2014.