NFL Outlook: Can the Chicago Bears Still Make the Playoffs?

Brandon DennisCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS-OCTOBER 27: Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears holds his head in the fourth quarter during the loss to the Minnesota Vikings at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 27, 2002 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The Vikings defeated the Bears 25-7.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Midway through the fourth quarter in Sunday's game, it appeared the Bears were headed toward a much-needed victory. Tim Tebow once again worked his magic in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, while the Bears did everything they could to help him succeed.

If Marion Barber had simply stayed inbounds rather than being pushed out. the Bears' future this season would have a much different tone. However, he did not and now the chances of the Bears making the playoffs took a big hit as both the Lions and Falcons, teams the Bears were tied with going into Sunday, both won.

The remaining schedule for the Bears looks bearable, beginning with Seattle at home. The Seahawks have played better as of late as they have been able to find their running game. With the game at home, you would think the Bears should win the game, but everyone thought they would beat an injury-riddled Chiefs team coming in on a four-game losing streak.

After Seattle, the Bears travel to Green Bay, which is a game that the only hope I hold is it is a rivalry game and crazy things sometimes happen in those.

The last game of the year is at Minnesota. This game could be interesting depending on the health of both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. If either or both are able to make it back for the game, the Bears should win easily. Although easily should be taken very broadly at this point for a team that has scored a combined 13 points the past two weeks.

Atlanta hosts Jacksonville, travels to New Orleans and finishes at home against Tampa Bay. Just like the Bears, the Falcons have two winnable games. New Orleans provides a challenge I do not see them winning, but both Jacksonville and Tampa Bay have struggled this season.

Detroit has the toughest remaining schedule, playing at Oakland, home to San Diego and finishing at Green Bay. All three games are games the Lions could lose. Oakland will come in desperately needing a win to stay alive. San Diego has struggled this year but has a talented team. The Packers game could go either way depending on what happens to the Packers the next two weeks. If they lose a game they will almost assuredly rest their starters, thus giving the Lions a winnable game. If not they come into the game at 15-0 and leave 16-0.

Dallas and the Giants are now both tied with the Bears at 7-6. They play each other the last game of the regular season in New York. The Cowboys' other two games are at Tampa Bay and home against the Eagles. The Giants' other two are home against Washington and at the Jets.

With all that being said, the Bears could finish the season 9-7. Will this be enough to get them into the playoffs? I am going to pencil Atlanta into the playoffs with two of the three remaining games against inferior opponents. I see the Lions losing two of the last three if not all three of them.

This leaves the last playoff spot open between the Bears, Giants and Cowboys. Either the Giants or Cowboys will win the NFC East, so it really comes down to one of the two. Of the two the Cowboys play the easier schedule but have also struggled recently, losing to Arizona and narrowly pulling out a win against the Dolphins. Both teams far below .500. The Giants are a complete anomaly as to what will happen. With the way they have played this season they could win by a blowout in all three or be blown out in all three.

If the Bears are to make the playoffs they will need help. With the way they are currently playing, the prospects do not look too bright. It's tough to think that just a few weeks ago the Bears were playing as well as anyone and looked to be a dangerous team in the playoffs. Now three weeks, a couple of key injuries and three losses later, the Colts may be the only team I would put my money on the Bears beating, and even then I would have to think about it.