With first place hanging in the balance, the Bears knocked the Vikings down a peg last night, bringing some much-needed clarity to the NFC North playoff picture while making a statement to the rest of the league. Now, let’s dive into the latest batch of updated playoff odds for the very much for-real Chicago Bears.
The Bears aren’t locked into a spot as the division champs just yet, but a little separation at the top helps with the breathing room. Even in defeat, the Vikings still have an inside track on a Wild-Card spot, but the Lions’ win against the Panthers breathed new life into the Packers’ postseason chances when many left them for dead after losing to the Seahawks.
With that said, the Week 12 Vikings-Packers game is – for all intents and purposes – a playoff game. Now let’s check out what that playoff picture actually looks like, first via FiveThirtyEight.
FiveThirtyEight: 2018 Playoff and Division Odds
- BEARS: 87% make playoffs (+17%), 71% win division (+21%)
- Vikings: 52% make playoffs (-11%), 21% win division (-20%)
- Packers: 17% make playoffs (-6%), 5% win division (-3%)
- Lions: 7% make playoffs (+3%), 3% win division (+2%)
Those playoff odds just keep climbing!
Separation Sunday put some distance between the Bears and the Vikings in the race for the division title. Chicago’s general playoff odds now stand at 87 percent by this measure, while their chances of clinching the NFC North jumped to 71 percent. If you’re keeping track at home, the Bears saw their playoff and division championship chances climb 17(!) and 21(!!) percentage points respectively, while their chief rival saw their chances drop by 11 and 20 points. It was a huge swing game that went firmly in the Bears direction.
After Sunday’s win, FiveThirtyEight projects the Bears to finish with 10.4 wins and 5.6 losses – that’s third best in the NFC and eighth best in football, not too shabby.
New York Times NFL Playoff Simulator
There are 79 octillion different ways the 2018 NFL season could end, according to the New York Times’ playoff simulator, and here’s how the math plays out on this glorious Monday:
- BEARS: 87% make playoffs (+13%), 71% win division (+18%)
- Vikings: 51% make playoffs (-8%), 20% win division (-13%)
- Packers: 24% make playoffs (-9%), 7% win division (-6%)
- Lions: 6% make playoffs (+3%), 2% win division (-4%)
The Bears’ playoff odds are creeping toward 90 percent, which would put them among the elites in the NFC. Only the Saints and Rams have better odds at winning their division and making the playoffs. With New Orleans and Los Angeles are virtual locks and are the cream of the crop in the conference, that leaves the Bears currently with a 41 percent chance of hosting a Wild Card game at Soldier Field. So while the Bears aren’t hanging around with the Saints and Rams just yet, they’re in that second tier of teams that are confirmed contenders in the NFC playoff chase and could soon cement their spot among the elites with a win against the Lions.
Not only would a Bears win against the Lions kick off Thanksgiving the right way, it would thrust the team’s playoff odds into overdrive. You can play around with NYT’s simulator here, but I hope you’re seated when you’re doing so because a Bears win on Thursday would put the Bears in the postseason in 97 percent of the NYT’s simulated scenarios. Giddy up!
The road to the postseason isn’t going to be paved with pristine roads, but the road map to the team’s first playoff appearance since 2010 can’t get much clearer.