Alright, I admit it: When I first drafted up the Chicago Bears playoff odds post after their Week 2 win over Seattle, it was done mostly in jest. For fun. Just to see.
Sure, the Bears had just beaten Russell Wilson and the Seahawks after nearly beating the Packers in Week 1. And sure, the Packers and Vikings Week 2 tie opened up an unexpected avenue for the Bears in the NFC North, but we were just two weeks into the 2018 season at the time. How much weight could we really apply to the odds? Spoilers: not much.
But since then, two more weeks have gone by (we’re now a quarter of the way through the season!) and the Bears have won their games against the Cardinals and Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the Packers and Lions each went 1-1, while the Vikings went 0-2. What was already a good position for the Bears has since improved quite a bit:
NFC North Standings:
- Chicago Bears: 3-1-0
- Green Bay Packers: 2-1-1
- Minnesota Vikings: 1-2-1
- Detroit Lions: 1-3-0
Three-game winning streaks. Not bad, eh?
So how about those playoff odds, then? If you recall, FiveThirtyEight gave the Bears just a 19 percent shot at reaching the playoffs at all this year and only an 11 percent chance at winning their division before the start of the season. After Week 2, those odds improved subtly, to 24 percent and 14 percent for the Bears. But after three straight wins and some mediocre play around the division, well, just look for yourself:
FiveThirtyEight: 2018 Playoff and Division Odds
- BEARS: 54% make playoffs, 42% win division
- Vikings: 35% make playoffs, 24% win division
- Packers: 32% make playoffs, 20% win division
- Lions: 18% make playoffs, 13% win division
Yo … The Bears have not only improved their chances of making the postseason by 35 percentage points since the start of the season, they now have better than a 50/50 shot of sneaking in and a 42 percent chance of winning the NFC North. Better yet, they have better odds – division or otherwise – than each of the Vikings, Packers, or Lions! Who saw that coming one-fourth of the way through the season.
Indeed, according to FiveThirtyEight, the Bears are projected at 9.1 wins and 6.9 losses this season, which would be good for 11th best in the NFL, according to their forecast. Better yet, their 54 percent chance of reaching the postseason currently represents the 10th best odds of any team in football.
Are we getting way ahead of ourselves? Can everything change quickly? Yes, and yes. Of course, it’s still very early. And, of course, celebrating after four only games is a silly thing to do, but I am still relatively blown away by the Bears’ ability to even get to this point. And it’s not like things aren’t looking particularly bright right now, right?
The Bears just won three games in a row, are getting a bye-week to rest up and reset, just caught a break with Akiem Hicks avoiding a suspension, and just witnessed their quarterback break out in exactly the ways they always thought possible. This is still an uphill climb and the Packers and Vikings won’t go down without a fight. But I think it’s OK to let a little optimism creep in (Luis: It’s not just OK, I would encourage you to allow it to take control!).
The Bears have played well and the odds reflect it. It’s now on the rest of the division to make sure they don’t get further. Not the other way around. And that’s a good feeling – one we haven’t had in quite a while.