Breaking Down Every Potential Playoff Matchup for the Chicago Bears
Five weeks ago, the 7-1 Chicago Bears looked to be destined for the NFC North title and a first round bye in the playoffs.
Now, after a 1-4 stretch, playing past Week 17 is no longer a guarantee for the league's fastest falling team. The Bears currently sit in the No. 6 spot, just one game ahead of the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys (Bears own tiebreaker) and Washington Redskins.
A loss next week to the Green Bay Packers would lock up the division title for the Bears' division rivals, while giving the other Wild Card contenders a chance to inch even closer.
Injuries and lackluster play in all aspects of the game have been crippling the last two weeks. Lovie Smith will need to get things fixed quickly in order to salvage the season.
If the Bears are to make the postseason, here are their potential first-round matchups.
Bears at Packers
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As the playoff picture stands at this moment, the Bears would be heading to Green Bay on Wild Card Weekend.
The Packers dominated Jay Cutler & Co. at Lambeau Field earlier this season in a 23-10 victory. Cutler was sacked seven times in an abysmal performance by the Bears' offense.
Heading to the frozen tundra to begin the playoffs can't be at the top of the Bears' wish list, but beggars can't be choosers. The Bears would be lucky to make the playoffs at this point.
The Pack have lost their last two playoff games at Lambeau Field, so maybe there would be some glimmer of hope.
Packers at Bears
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Technically, the Bears still have a shot at winning the division, and hosting a home playoff game.
However, spotting Santa Clause on Christmas Eve is more likely than this happening.
The Bears would need to win out (beating Green Bay), and have the Packers lose to the Titans or Vikings. Long story short, it's not going to happen.
Bears at Giants
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The Giants are doing what they know best: turning it on at the end of the season.
Regardless of their record, Tom Coughlin's squad always plays their best football at the end of the year. While the Giants are far from locking up the division, it is likely that they will hold on and host a playoff game during Wild Card Weekend.
Heading to MetLife Stadium would be quite a tough task for the Bears, just ask Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who lost 38-10 there three weeks ago.
While there are many great quarterbacks out there, no one may be as dangerous as Eli Manning in the postseason. Last year's Super Bowl MVP is 8-1 in his last nine playoff games.
Bears at 49ers
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The 49ers are currently in position to have a bye in the first round of the playoffs, but things could quickly change.
With a matchup with New England, the 49ers could fall to the No. 3 seed with a loss and the Packers winning out. If that is the case, the Bears could find themselves back in San Francisco to relive the Monday Night Football nightmare.
The Bears were utterly dominated, as they were outgained by more than 200 total yards, losing 32-7. Chicago was without Cutler, but he is probably glad he missed that one, thanks to Aldon Smith's 5.5 sacks.
The Bears might like a chance at revenge, but then again, getting punched in the mouth the second time might hurt worse than the first.
Bears at Redskins
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Don't count out the Redskins in the playoff race just yet.
Robert Griffin III has put together a fantastic season, leading his team on a four-game winning streak that puts them only one game behind the Giants in the NFC East.
If that's the case, and the Bears draw them in the first round, Chicago would have its hands full. The Bears may have thought it was hard to contain the running abilities of Russell Wilson; they haven't seen anything yet. Griffin would pose a major problem for what has looked like an old, slow Bears defense in recent weeks.
Seahawks at Bears
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If the stars somehow align and the Bears win the division, one potential visitor to Soldier Field could be the Seahawks.
However, they have seemed like anything but a visitor of late, winning three of their last four in Chicago.
This season, Wilson led the Seahawks on a 97-yard scoring drive to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, before winning the game with an 80-yard touchdown drive in overtime.
Thanks to that loss, it is unlikely this rematch will occur, as the Bears' chances of winning the division are quickly slipping away. Right now, the Bears just need to get healthy and focus on making the postseason.
There are no guarantees, and if something doesn't change quickly, all of these matchups will be a figment of imagination and the Bears will be watching the playoffs from the couch.