Best, Worst Case Scenarios for Chicago Bears Playoff Run

William CaultonContributor IIIDecember 13, 2013

Best, Worst Case Scenarios for Chicago Bears Playoff Run

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    Fresh off a Monday night beat down of the Dallas Cowboys, the 7-6 Chicago Bears have once again performed their favorite magic trick. The one where they dangle the possibility of a postseason in front of their fans.

    Now watch it closely. There it is.

    Just like it was there after starting the season 3-0. Or after pulling to 5-3 with a win over the Green Bay Packers. Or following the overtime victory against the Baltimore Ravens that took them to 6-4.

    Now You See It.

    But then they lost in Weeks 4 and 5 to fall to 3-2. They dropped a crucial Week 10 matchup to the Lions, and with it, an important tiebreaker. They followed the Baltimore win with losses against the St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings, falling to 6-6.

    Now You Don’t.

    Of course, the Bears would love a different ending to that trick, one where an upswing setup isn’t followed by a downturn reveal.

    With three weeks remaining, what are the chances of that happening? What are the best case scenarios moving forward? What are the worst case scenarios? What’s the most likely ending to this story? Check it out in the following slideshow.

Best Case Scenario No. 1: Win out

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    It doesn’t get any simpler. The best case scenario is the Bears winning out, defeating the Cleveland Browns (4-9), Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) and Packers (6-6-1) to finish 10-6. With the Detroit Lions almost certain to drop at least a game, the Bears would jump to the top of the NFC North and take the division crown for the first time since 2010.

    At 10-6, they’d face one of the two Wild Card teams in the first round of the playoffs, likely either the Carolina Panthers or San Francisco 49ers.

    Likelihood: 5 percent

    If it were three coin flips, the odds of winning three in a row would be 12.5 percent. However, the Bears will likely find themselves underdogs against the Eagles and, if Aaron Rodgers is back, the Packers. With an offense that’s red hot, they can win three in a row, but with a defense that’s somewhere between ice cold and frozen, it’s not likely.

Best Case Scenario No. 2: Knock the Cheese off Their Heads

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    For fans, this scenario may be even better than Scenario No. 1, because it entails a dramatic Week 17 showdown with the Packers. If the Bears manage to pull ahead of the Lions entering Week 17, a win over Green Bay would punch Chicago’s ticket to the playoffs.

    Likelihood: 25 percent

    A few weeks ago the Lions schedule looked easier than it does now. They face Baltimore in Week 15, a team that needs to keep winning to take an AFC Wild Card spot. In Week 16, they face the New York Giants, winners of five of their last eight.

    It’s conceivable that the stumbling Lions could lose both of these games. The Bears, then, would only need to beat one of Cleveland or Philadelphia to set up the showdown with Green Bay.

    In the dream scenario, the Packers enter Week 17 out of contention, having decided to let Rodgers sit for the remainder of the season. On second thought, perhaps the dream scenario is beating the Packers with Rodgers. One of those versions is a taller task than the other, but in both cases, playing at Soldier Field, the Bears could give their fans a heck of a reason to celebrate.

Worst Case Scenario No. 1: Lose the Last 3

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    Losing their last three games and finishing 7-9 would be a disappointing finish to the season—painful for fans to the very end—and that’s why this is the No. 1 worst case scenario. Unfortunately, it is a possibility.

    Likelihood: 5 percent

    In Chicago’s most winnable game, Week 15 at Cleveland, Vegas favors the Bears by just a point, according to Dropping that game would put the Bears in a tough spot, as they face two tough opponents, Philadelphia and Green Bay, to end the season. Losing out is just about as likely as winning out.

    There is a silver lining to this scenario, however. Finishing 7-9 would slate the Bears around 14 to 16 in the draft. For a team that needs playmakers on defense, picking a few spots sooner could have a positive impact for 2014.

    Considering the consensus is that the Bears won’t sniff the Super Bowl even if they make the playoffs, ironically this worst case scenario is perhaps the best option in the long run.

Worst Case Scenario No. 2: Tie Goes to the Other Team, Again

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    Last year five teams finished 10-6, and only one of those teams—the Bears—missed the playoffs. (They were edged by the Vikings due to the tiebreaker.) If the Bears finish this season with the same record as the Lions, whether it’s 10-6, 9-7 or 8-8, they’ll once again lose out because of the tiebreaker.

    Likelihood: 30 percent

    What makes this scenario perhaps the worst of all is the rearview mirror, showing images like the botched overtime possession in Week 13 against Minnesota, or the 21-19 loss to the Lions in Week 10 where Cutler, hobbling and unproductive, stayed in the game until midway through the fourth quarter.

Worst Case Scenario No. 3: The Pack Attack Is Back

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    At 6-6-1, the Packers aren’t out of the running just yet. In this nightmare scenario, the Packers would leapfrog the Bears and Lions to take their third NFC North title in a row.

    Likelihood: 10 percent

    While there is no official ruling on whether Rodgers will suit up Week 15 against the Cowboys, some sources, Tom Silverstein of for one, speculate that he will again be watching from the bench. Another week without Rodgers would put a serious dent in the Packers’ playoff hopes, as they have to travel to Dallas to take on a team needing a rebound win to stay alive in the NFC East.

    However, a loss to Dallas doesn’t squash Green Bay’s season. The NFC North could go to the team that wins two of the next three. If Rodgers comes back healthy for the final two weeks, the Packers have to like their chances of winning both games, at home against Pittsburgh and on the road against the Bears.

Worst Case Scenario No. 4: Cutler vs. McCown

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    Need an overview? Google “Cutler vs. McCown.” Read any of the first 60 results.

    Likelihood: 100 percent

    Whether the Bears make the playoffs or not, what remains certain is the quarterback controversy in Chicago. Per Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports, Marc Trestman officially named Jay Cutler Chicago’s Week 15 starter. It’s a move that only heats up the discussion.

    There’s no remedy for opposing viewpoints on the topic. Over the next three games, Cutler could surpass McCown’s recent production, and still, rational minds could argue that, considering price tags, the journeyman is the better option.

    Or Cutler could struggle; then what would happen? At that point the first 160 Google results would probably give you an indication.

    Most likely Cutler will play well, and the debates heading into the offseason will sound like echoes of the countless pros and cons that have been hashed out over the last few weeks.