OK, so the Bears defeated the Jets in Week 8. After they picked up another victory against the Bills in Week 9, we called it “two in a row.” And after beating the Lions in Week 10, it’s called “a winning streak” … it has happened before. Now, will it happen again? That’s what remains to be seen.
Let’s dive into the latest batch of updated playoff odds now that Week 10 is in the books.
NFC North Standings:
You know it’s a big game when you don’t have to explicitly say it’s a big game. All you have to do is look at the NFC North standings if you want to figure out the importance of Sunday’s Bears-Vikings matchup.
- Chicago Bears: 6-3-0
- Minnesota Vikings: 5-3-1
- Green Bay Packers: 4-4-1
- Detroit Lions: 3-6-0
There is a bit of separation between the top two teams in the division and the teams rounding up the rear. And while the Lions’ playoff hopes were beaten, battered, and discarded (we’ll get to that in short order) by the Bears on Sunday, the Packers can’t be counted out yet. Let’s check out what that picture looks like, first via FiveThirtyEight.
FiveThirtyEight: 2018 Playoff and Division Odds
- BEARS: 70% make playoffs (+15%), 50% win division (+8%)
- Vikings: 63% make playoffs (+5%), 41% win division (-5%)
- Packers: 23% make playoffs (+12%), 8% win division (+2%)
- Lions: 4% make playoffs (-5%), 1% win division (-5%)
Check that out! The Bears have over-taken the Vikings in the playoff odds race via FiveThirtyEight. Some of that might have to do with the Vikings being on a bye in Week 10, but let’s give credit to the Bears here. Three straight wins have boosted their playoff odds at FiveThirtyEight by 39 percentage points with wins in their last three games.
When you win the games you’re supposed to win, the chances of your team making the playoffs will continue to rise. It doesn’t take a math wizard to figure that one out.
In addition to the Bears’ increasing odds, FiveThirtyEight’s module has the Bears inching toward the 10-win milestone. Current projections have the Bears at 9.8 wins and 6.2 losses. The Bears haven’t reached a double-figure win season since 2012, which was the year that ended with the team firing Lovie Smith. Chicago has had four double-digit loss seasons since parting ways with Lovie, but the tide could (finally) be turning.
FootballOutsiders.com: 2018 Playoff and Division Odds
- BEARS: 86.4% make playoffs, 69.1% win division
- Vikings: 43.9% make playoffs, 17.1% win division
- Packers: 42.1% make playoffs, 13.6% win division
- Lions: 0.7% make playoffs, 0.2% win division
The updated playoff odds report at FootballOutsiders.com are based off 50,000 simulations of the 2018 NFL season and the results are driven by win probabilities based on a proprietary equation that considers team efficiency and DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) rankings. That’s a fancy way of saying these ratings are rooted in football information before being put through the ringer and churned out into playoff and division odds.
All that being said, damn the Bears are looking good. They have the best odds in the NFC North to make the playoffs and have a nice shot at winning the division. By Football Outsiders’ metrics, the Bears are doing amazing things on the field and it’s showing up in a major way in their projected outlook. Entering Week 11, the Bears have the third highest odds of making the postseason among NFC teams. That’s pretty darn good if you ask me.
New York Times NFL Playoff Simulator
There are 325 nonillion different ways the 2018 NFL season could 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: 74% make playoffs (+16%), 53% win division (+10%)
- Vikings: 59% make playoffs (+6%), 33% win division (-6%)
- Packers: 33% make playoffs (+11%), 13% win division (+1%)
- Lions: 3% make playoffs (-5%), 6% win division (-1%)
On top of all that goodness of the Bears increasing their playoff odds above 70 percent and their chances of winning the division going north of 50 percent, there are 4% of simulations that end with the Bears winning the freakin’ Super Bowl! The only teams with better chances at winning the Super Bowl are the Rams (17%) and Saints (17%). Alright, so there’s a gap between the cream of the crop in the NFC and the rest of the contenders. But I’ll be damned if the Bears – as of this moment – aren’t among the best of that bunch.
And to think, things could kick up a notch with a win in primetime against the Vikings. You can play around with NYT’s simulator here, but know that a Bears victory on Sunday Night Football would boost the increase the percentage of scenarios in which the Bears make the playoffs to 82 percent. A loss, however, would throw a wrench in things and kick their odds down to 56 percent. A tie wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, as it would only moderately hurt Chicago’s chances by knocking their odds down to 71 percent. But I’d rather not think about those last two scenarios playing out. Just win, baby! And the path to a postseason party will continue to get clearer as we head into winter.