One of the premiere matchups this Sunday features the Seattle Seahawks travelling to Chicago to take on the Bears. This game has major playoff implications for both teams.
The Seahawks are one of five teams fighting for that last wild-card spot. Head-to-head wins over the Vikings and the Cowboys are helpful, but the Seahawks still need to finish strong to have a shot to get into the playoffs.
The Bears, meanwhile, need a win to maintain their division lead over the Packers.
Both teams have three divisional matchups in the final four weeks of the season, promising a tough stretch to the finish line. That makes this game that much more crucial. Here is what could happen based on this game.
If Seattle Wins
If the Seahawks win, that would elevate them to 5-4 in the conference and 7-5 overall. With games against the Cardinals, Rams and Bills in the next four weeks, the Seahawks would be in great shape down the stretch.
One area of concern, though, is that the Redskins hold the conference wins tie breaker over the Seahawks. The Seahawks will need to win out to ensure a playoff berth, and that starts in Chicago.
Technically, a win also keeps the Seahawks in the race for the NFC West divisional crown They are three games behind the 49ers right now, but crazier collapses have happened. A win in Chicago would at least keep the Seahawks' hopes alive.
Basically, a loss would at least temporarily boot the Seahawks out of the sixth seed in the playoffs, assuming Minnesota or Tampa Bay win. They would still be in the hunt, but their road would be much tougher.
The Bears, meanwhile, would fall to 8-5. The Packers could then take control of the division with a win over the Vikings.
Worth noting, though, is that both teams would still control their own destinies regardless. The Bears will still need to beat the Packers at home to seal the division, while the Packers could seal the division with a win of their own.
Basically, the Bears can afford to lose this game if they win out. The Seahawks can't.
If Chicago Wins
If Chicago wins, it maintains their lead over the Packers in the NFC North for another week.
Probably more importantly, it would mean the Bears only would need two more wins to guarantee a playoff berth. With a schedule that features the Cardinals and the Lions, that should be doable for the Bears.
Still, a win does nothing to guarantee the NFC North crown. The Bears will still need to beat the Packers to do that.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, will fall to 6-6 and likely fall out of the sixth seed for the time being. They would need to win out to make the playoffs at that point, and even then, they'd need some help. On the plus side, the Seahawks close with three out of four games at home, making winning out a real possibility.
Two numbers stick out in this game. The Seahawks are 1-5 on the road, and the Bears are undefeated against first- and second-year quarterbacks this year.
Take the Bears to maintain and possibly expand their lead in the NFC North, while the Seahawks will yield to the Vikings or Buccaneers in the wild-card race.