We’re at the midway point of the season and the Chicago Bears are well-positioned to end the NFL’s second-longest active playoff drought.
Let’s dive into the latest round of updated playoff odds while the memories of a successful Week 9 are fresh.
NFC North Standings:
- Chicago Bears: 5-3-0
- Minnesota Vikings: 5-3-1
- Green Bay Packers: 3-4-1
- Detroit Lions: 3-5-0
The NFC North was so tightly packed heading into Week 9, the fear of watching the Bears go from first to worst to first and back again crept into my mind for a moment. Those thoughts went away once the Bears put up 28 points in the second quarter against Buffalo, though. So, you know … thanks for that, Bears!
Meanwhile, the two teams who were sellers during last week’s trade deadline were handed losses. Green Bay and Detroit shouldn’t be ruled out of contention yet, but this week’s results put a dent in their futures odds. Tough break. You hate to see it.
Let’s check out what that picture looks like, first via FiveThirtyEight.
FiveThirtyEight: 2018 Playoff and Division Odds
- Vikings: 58% make playoffs (+7%), 46% win division (+3%)
- BEARS: 55% make playoffs (+12%), 42% win division (+11%)
- Packers: 12% make playoffs (-6%), 6% win division (+6%)
- Lions: 9% make playoffs (-10%), 6% win division (-9%)
Before Week 8, Chicago’s playoff odds sat at 28 percent and our hope took a big hit. Still, hope wasn’t lost, because there was still so much of the season to be played. And as it turns out, our faith was rewarded a few weeks later with back-to-back wins that pushed the Bears’ playoff odds to 55%. The Bears are back, baby!
Taking care of business against sub-.500 teams isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it’s what good teams are supposed to do. The Bears did it. That’s good. Minnesota still has better odds to make the playoffs (58%) and win the division (46%), but this should be a tightly contested race down the stretch. Indeed, this is how close it is right now: The Vikings are projected to have 9.4 wins and 6.6 losses, while FiveThirtyEight projects the Bears for 9.3 wins and 6.7 losses. That’s as close as it gets, folks!
Speaking of which, the 9.3 projected wins from FiveThirtyEight is the 10th most in the NFL. That’s not bad. Unfortunately, that’s a tier below the league’s upper echelon and being a top-10 projected team still leaves the Bears with the fifth most projected wins in the conference. But still … the Bears are a projected playoff team through nine weeks. Not bad for the start of the Matt Nagy era.
New York Times NFL Playoff Simulator
There are 11 undecillion different ways the 2018 NFL season can end, according to the New York Times’ playoff simulator, and here’s how they see things shaking out with all of the NFC North action in the books for Week 9:
- BEARS: 58% make playoffs (+10%), 43% win division (+8%)
- Vikings: 53% make playoffs (+9%), 39% win division (+6%)
- Packers: 22% make playoffs (-9%), 12% win division (-9%)
- Lions: 8% make playoffs (-8%), 6% win division (-6%)
The New York Times simulator also foresees a tight division race down the stretch, though they give the edge to Chicago in the end. That means that the Week 17 game between the Bears and Vikings could have postseason implications. And if you would have offered that to me before the year started, I would’ve locked it in immediately.
Indeed, if you’re curious to see how things could play out for the Bears, you can play around with the simulator here. And just for fun … A win against the Lions on Sunday would kick the Bears’ playoff odds up to 67 percent. A loss, however, well … I’d rather not think about that scenario playing out. But for the sake of this post, Chicago’s postseason odds would take a hit and tumble down to 36 percent. Yikes. Obviously, the results of the Packers and several other games would matter too (the Vikings are off), but hopefully you can tell: when it’s this late in the season with this tight of a race, the margin for error is quite narrow.
But, hey! The path to the postseason is pretty clear for the Bears. Keep winning games and the good vibes will continue.