NFL playoffs

Wild-Card Race: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 15

Wild-Card Race: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 15

The Bears didn't get the help they needed in Week 14 from teams like the Lions (against the Vikings) or Seahawks (against the Rams), but they did win their game against the Cowboys and improved to 7-6 on the season.

As a result, Chicago is still alive entering Week 15's game against the Packers. Green Bay's win over the Redskins, one which improved their record to 10-3, all but ended the slim hopes that the Bears could make a run for the NFC North, but it doesn't lessen the importance of Sunday's rivalry game.

You know the story by now. Chicago needs to win out in order to have any chance at a post-season berth. And even then, their chances aren't great. They're hovering around 5%, depending on which source of playoff odds you use.

Here's the thing: If the Bears just keep winning, their playoff odds will keep going up. They'll need some help, and they'll need the Rams and Vikings to slip up along the way, but all Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky and Khalil Mack can control right now is winning this Sunday.

In the meantime, here are the other games Bears fans should keep a close eye on.

Minnesota Vikings (9-4) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (5-8)
3:05 p.m. CST
CBS

The Vikings and Bears play in the season finale but Chicago needs Minnesota to lose at least one more time before Week 17 to give the game any meaning. If the Vikings enter that game with five losses and the Bears do their part to topple Kirk Cousins and the rest of Minnesota's cast of characters, they'll own the head-to-head tiebreaker for the sixth and final wild card.

Unfortunately, the Chargers don't inspire much confidence that that fifth and necessary loss will come on Sunday. But as Phillip Rivers proved in Week 14's 45-point output against the Jaguars, there's always a chance for Los Angeles to outplay their record.

Los Angeles Rams (8-5) at Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
3:25 p.m. CST
FOX

The biggest blow to the Bears' playoff chances in Week 14 may have happened in Los Angeles where the Rams defeated the Seahawks in a game many assumed Seattle would win. Now 1.5 games ahead of Chicago, L.A. has a very winnable game in Dallas against a team that's spiraling out of control. This, combined with the Rams' finding their offensive mojo once again suggests another victory for Los Angeles.

If they secure the win, the Bears would need Jared Goff and Aaron Donald to lose their final two games and end the year at 9-7. If the Rams end the season with the same record as Chicago, they'll own the head-to-head tiebreaker because of their win over the Bears in Week 11.

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Bears' wild-card chances eroding after Week 14's results

Bears' wild-card chances eroding after Week 14's results

The Bears did their part to keep hope alive for a playoff berth in Week 14, defeating the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night and moving to 7-6 on the season. Unfortunately, they didn't get the help they needed around the league to enter Week 15's game against the Green Bay Packers with legitimate post-season juice.

The Minnesota Vikings, who currently hold the final NFC wild card that the Bears are chasing, handled their business against the Detroit Lions with their 20-7 victory in a game that was never close. Now 9-4, the Vikings' have a two-game lead over the Bears with one head-to-head matchup remaining in Week 17. Chicago needs to defeat Minnesota in the season finale and hope the Vikings lose one of their other two remaining games against the Chargers and Packers. Otherwise, it's on to 2020.

The bigger blow to the Bears' playoff hopes came in Los Angeles, where the Rams moved to 8-5 with their 28-12 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. This was a game Chicago needed the Rams to lose, considering they hold the head-to-head tie-breaker and play only one more game on their schedule that seems like a likely loss (49ers in Week 16). Los Angeles' other two games are against the struggling Cowboys and lowly Cardinals, and if they win both and end the year with the same record as the Bears, they'll have the advantage because of Chicago's loss in Week 11.

So what does all this mean? Week 14's results have the Bears' chances to make the playoffs at just 2%, according to FiveThirtyEight.  Essentially, nothing's changed, even after a win. Football Insiders is a little more optimistic; they have Chicago's chances at 4.4%.

Sunday's game against the Packers has meaning. The Bears are still alive, and a victory in Green Bay coupled with some upset losses by the Vikings and Rams could change the playoff picture quite a bit. If both Minnesota and Los Angeles lose, Chicago's playoff chances jump to 14%, per the New York Times' playoff predictor.

One game at a time. It's a mantra that's worked for the Bears over the last month of the season, and one they'll continue to preach until there's nothing left to play for.

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NFC Wild Card Race: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 14

NFC Wild Card Race: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 14

The Bears did their part to keep their playoff hopes alive on Thursday night with a 31-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, thanks in large part to quarterback Mitch Trubisky's best game as a pro. But a slow start to the 2019 season and a 7-6 record means they still need a bunch of help to get into the postseason.

Here are the games Bears fans need to watch this Sunday.

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings - 12 p.m. CT (Only available on NFL Sunday Ticket)

The Vikings (8-4) currently have possession of the final NFC wild card and should maintain their position after facing the Lions (3-8-1) on Sunday.

Detroit is an absolute mess. Third-string quarterback David Blough will make the second start of his career, and while he had some encouraging moments against the Bears on Thanksgiving Day, the Vikings (unlike Chicago, who found out he was starting just moments before the game) have had a full week to prepare for him. Expect a bunch of turnovers.

It would be nothing short of a miracle if Minnesota blows this one. Expect the Vikings to move to 9-4 and keep hold of their two-game lead over the Bears.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks - 7:20 p.m. CT on NBC (Click here to watch)

The other key matchup Bears fans should have an eye on in Week 14 is the Rams (7-5) vs. Seahawks (10-2). The Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Chicago because of their 17-7 win in Week 11, which means Los Angeles has to lose two of their final four games against Seattle, Dallas, San Francisco and Arizona (and that's assuming the Bears win out).

The Rams should have little trouble defeating the Cowboys and Cardinals, so it's critical Seattle gives Bears fans one of those two necessary L.A. losses.

Green Bay Packers vs. Washington Redskins - 12 p.m. CT on FOX (Click here to watch)

Lastly, the Green Bay Packers (9-3) take on the Washington Redskins (3-9). Believe it or not, a Packers loss keeps hope alive for the Bears and an NFC North championship. A Redskins victory is highly unlikely, but they weren't supposed to defeat the Panthers last week, either.

It's pretty simple: Wins by the Lions, Seahawks and Redskins will make Week 15's game against the Packers one of the biggest regular-season games in a very, very long time.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.