The Bears are no longer looking down on the 49ers in the conference standings.
The Chicago Bears fell to 7-3 on Monday Night Football after a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The loss sent Chicago tumbling to the No. 5 seed in the NFC by virtue of a tiebreaker advantage given to the Green Bay Packers when the Bears lost to Green Bay in Week 2.
Assuming that the Atlanta Falcons retain their mantle at the top of the NFC regular-season standings and the NFC East teams continue their pattern of maddening inconsistency, Chicago has four potential landing spots in the final NFC seeding.
The No.1 seed would be accounted for by Atlanta, and whoever wins the NFC East would take over the No. 4 spot. That leaves Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6 for Chicago.
Short of a catastrophic flop, the Bears should make the playoffs. Jason Campbell is not Caleb Hanie or Josh McCown. He’s got plenty of experience as an NFL starter and is prepared to lead a team with Chicago’s level of defense to the playoffs if need be.
The discrepancy between his MNF performance and these assertions has more to do with the lights-out play of the San Francisco defense than Campbell’s shortcomings.
Judging by the way San Francisco played on Monday night, the 49ers could lock down the No. 2 seed, essentially forcing Chicago into the No. 3 spot or a wild-card berth.
Which seed will the Chicago Bears have in the 2012 playoffs?
In effect, two differences exist between the remaining schedules of the Packers and Bears. Green Bay plays the New York Giants in New York and the Tennessee Titans at home while Chicago plays the Seattle Seahawks at home and the Arizona Cardinals on the road.
They also play one another in Chicago—which is likely to be the deciding factor between the two. Green Bay has the advantage in that scenario. Despite gutting out an ugly win on Thursday night in Week 2, the Packers offense tentatively has the advantage over Chicago’s defense in the rematch.
Green Bay is more effective moving the ball now than it was at the beginning of the season, and Chicago’s defense just got picked apart by 49ers backup QB Colin Kaepernick.
Still, the Bears should not be in danger of losing their spot in the postseason tournament—unless their two straight losses snowball into a bigger issue against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 12 and beyond. Chicago should beat the rest of the teams on its schedule, other than Green Bay, giving it a 12-4 record.
If the Packers win out, they would relegate the Bears to the No. 5 seed, where Chicago would be a real problem against the NFC East division winner in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
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