I know this will be a weird, even uncomfortable thing to accept, but we have to come to terms with reality: The Chicago Bears (8-3) are probably heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Obviously, there’s a lot of football left to be played – including a tough matchup against the Rams, a re-match against the Packers, and a regular-season finale against the second-place Vikings that could loom over the rest of the season like a specter of doom (are there any other kinds?) – but the reality is, after five straight wins, including three in a row against the NFC North – the Bears are in really good shape.
Let’s check back in on those standings:
The NFC North
- Chicago Bears: 8-3
- Minnesotta Vikings: 5-4-1
- Green Bay Packers: 4-5-1
- Detroit Lions: 4-7-0
The Packers and Vikings haven’t kicked off on Week 12 yet, but they’re playing each other, so AT WORST the Vikings will be two behind in the wins column and one behind in the loss column, and at best they’ll be three games behind the Bears and tied with the Packers. And because of this interlocking schedule and the Bears’ existing lead, the playoff odds are downright drool-worthy. Be warned, this is going to make you smile.
FiveThirtyEight: Playoff & Division Odds
- BEARS: 96% make playoffs (+9%), 83% win division (+12%)
- Vikings: 52% make playoffs (even), 14% win division (-7%)
- Packers: 16% make playoffs (-1%), 3% win division (-2%)
- Lions: 1% make playoffs (-6%), <1% win division (-1%)
Yeah, the 2018 Chicago Bears playoff odds START with a “9.”
Looking around the rest of the league, the Bears odds of reaching the playoffs and their division, according to FiveThirtyEight, are the sixth best in football, behind only the Rams, Saints, Chiefs, Patriots, and Steelers. If you were hoping for a nice start to the weekend, this was it. But to be safe, let’s check in on another projection system, to get a little balance.
New York Times NFL Playoff Simulator
There are 5 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:
- BEARS: 96% make playoffs (+7%), 83% win division (+12%)
- Vikings: 49% make playoffs (-2%), 13% win division (-7%)
- Packers: 23% make playoffs (-1%), 4% win division (-3%)
- Lions: 1% make playoffs (-5%), <1% win division (-3%)
In short, the New York Times playoff simulator is projecting identical odds for the Bears and some slightly worse odds for the Vikings. If anything is clear, however, it’s that the Bears are now the CLEAR front runners for the NFC North. They may still feel like underdogs to us, but to the rest of the league, they’re quickly becoming a team to fear.
It’s probably a bit too early to begin discussing seeding, but that is something to begin considering. It’ll be tough for the Bears to overcome the Rams (10-1) and Saints (10-1), especially after the Rams beat the Chiefs on Monday night, but it is still possible and securing that third seed seems like a very reasonable consolation prize (think about reading that sentence at the beginning of the season).
The Bears aren’t perfect, the quarterback might be hurt, and there’s still a lot of football left, but as of today, you can allow yourself to start dreaming about meaningful football in January. It’s been a very long time since they’ve been there, but I’d say it’s about time. Go Bears.
Also … Thanks, Chase Daniel!