What Bears need to happen to make NFL playoffs


The Chicago Bears are on a two-game win streak and back to .500.

This comes after a six-game losing streak derailed the Bears' season after a promising 5-1 start.

But despite a 7-7 record, the Bears are still in the playoff hunt, thanks in part to the expanded playoff field.

After the Bears beat the Vikings and the Cardinals beat the Eagles in Week 15, Chicago has a 31% chance of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.

So what needs to happen for the Bears to make the playoffs? Let's look at two scenarios.

Bears Win Out

Let's assume the Bears beat the Jaguars, who've won a single game all season, in Week 16 and a Packers team potentially resting players in Week 17.

In that scenario the Bears finished the season 9-7.

The Cardinals are currently 8-6. They host the 49ers in Week 16 and play the Rams in Los Angeles in Week 17. If the Cardinals win out, the Bears are eliminated.

If the Cardinals lose out, Arizona would finish 8-8 and the Bears’ 9-7 record would punch their ticket into the playoffs.

If the Cardinals lose only one of those final two games, their season ends with a 9-7 record as well.

The tie-breaker would be the record in conference games. The Bears are currently 6-5 in conference and if they win out, they'd be 7-5 in the NFC. The Cardinals are currently 6-4 in the NFC and if they went 1-1 in their final two games, would also be 7-5.


The tie-breaker than moves to best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four. The Bears and Cardinals have four common opponents: Rams, Giants, Panthers and Lions.

Right now, the Bears are 3-2 in those games while the Cardinals are 1-3. Even if they beat the Rams in their Week 17 game, the best they could finish is 2-3 and the Bears would own the tie breaker.

That's for the seventh seed.

If the Buccaneers (9-5) lose their final two games, and the Cardinals lose out, the Bears could sneak climb as high as the sixth-seed thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker the Bears' own over the Bucs by beating Tampa Bay earlier in the season.

Bears Go 1-1

If the Bears lose one of their final two games, they'd be 8-8 and need a lot more help to reach the playoffs.

For starters, they're not making up ground to catch the anything but the final seventh-seed. Which means they need to overtake the Cardinals.

The Bears would need the Cardinals to lose their final two games to also finish with an 8-8 record as well and to force tie-breakers.

The tie-breaker again would be the record in conference games and if the Cardinals lost their Week 16 and 17 match ups, the Cardinals would be 6-6 in the NFC. If the Bears beat the Packers in Week 17 and lose to the Jaguars, they're in with a 7-5 NFC record

If they beat the Jags and lose to the Packers, they're also 6-6 in the NFC. That means the tie-breaker moves to best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.

As mentioned before, the Bears own a 3-2 record in games among those four common opponents. The Cardinals are 1-3 before even playing their final game against the Rams, so the Bears win the tie-breaker.

If more teams than just the Cardinals and Bears end the season 8-8, the tie-breakers get more confusing so we're not even going to entertain it.

Think positive! Be you! All that stuff.

Click here to subscribe to the Under Center Podcast for free.