It wasn't supposed to be this way. The Bears' playoff hopes weren't supposed to be a statistical improbability entering Week 11. Chicago wasn't supposed to be the first destination mentioned for every veteran quarterback likely to be available in the offseason, and Eddie Jackson wasn't supposed to still be searching for his first turnover almost three months into the season.
Chicago's odds of making the playoffs aren't good entering Sunday night's game against the Rams. They're terrible, actually, as the Bears have around a 5 percent chance at a postseason berth. Put another way, there's a 95 percent chance the season is already over. Ouch.
But that's why they play the game, right?
Why are the Bears' chances so low? First, they have no shot at winning the NFC North. The Packers are 7-2 and rolling. Chicago is 3.5 games behind with only seven games to play. Green Bay would need to suffer a historic collapse coupled with Mitch Trubisky playing like an MVP candidate for that to happen. Neither is within the realm of possibility.
As a result, Chicago's only opportunity is the wild card, and with the way the NFC West is playing right now, there's really only one spot up for grabs. The 49ers (8-1) and Seahawks (8-2) have complicated things for the rest of the conference. The second-place team in the NFC West will have a better record than the division winner in the NFC East.
The second and final wild-card spot is currently held by the Vikings (7-3). The Bears defeated Minnesota in Week 4, so in theory, they're only 1.5 games back. They'll face off against each other again in Week 17, which at this rate, could (if everything goes perfectly) be for a trip to the postseason.
In order for the Bears' season finale to have that kind of meaning, several teams in front of them have to fall on hard times. The Cowboys (5-4), Rams (5-4) and Panthers (5-4) are all one game ahead and the next-best threats to the Vikings.
The good news? The Bears do have some control over their own destiny. When factoring Week 17's game against Minnesota, they play three of the four teams slotted ahead of them in the wild-card race over their final seven games.
It all begins with Sunday night's do-or-die game against the Rams. A win evens the Bears' record at 5-5 with two beatable opponents in Weeks 12 and 13 (Giants and Lions.) If their record is 7-5 entering the final quarter of the season, get your popcorn ready. The quest for the playoffs will be full speed ahead.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.