Can the Bears hang on to their playoff hopes or will they slip away?
The Chicago Bears await kickoff in London for Sunday's matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a victory, the Bears will move to 4-3 and the Bucs will fall to 4-3. This will give Chicago the tiebreaker if it comes down to a wild-card berth.
Chicago trails the Green Bay Packers by three games in the black-and-blue NFC North. With the Packers beating the Bears 27-17 in Week 3, that is essentially a four-game lead. The Bears will have to rely on the wild card for their playoff aspirations.
The NFC is fairly weak this season, with the NFC East not showing any powerhouses. The NFC South has two 4-2 teams in the New Orleans Saints and the Bucs. So beating the Bucs is a must for the Bears.
There is a chance, albeit a rare chance, three teams from the NFC North will make the playoff this year. The Detroit Lions are 5-1 after the "Coach Brawl" against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. The Lions also beat the Bears in their Week 5 matchup on Monday Night Football. The Lions' defensive pressure was too much for the Bears' offensive line. Nine false-start penalties didn't help the Bears, either.
Currently, Chicago is the eighth seed, holding the tiebreaker against the Atlanta Falcons after beating them in Week 1. Beating the Buccaneers would improve the Bears to the seventh seed with nine games remaining. The opponents' record of those remaining games is 27-23.
The Bears should beat Denver, Kansas City, Seattle, Minnesota (again) and Philadelphia. The Bears also have games against Oakland, San Diego and divisional rivals Detroit and Green Bay. If the Bears beat the teams they should, they could finish 9-7. That would give them a shot.
The Bears' playoff hopes ride on Sunday's game against the Buccaneers. Win, and the dream is alive...lose, and it's time to start planning for next year.