The concept of a “Magic Number” is something our friends at the O.G. Bleacher Nation are familiar with, but if those two words are a foreign language to you, don’t worry because we have you covered.
Simply put: the magic number represents the combination of wins for a team in first place and losses for the team in second place that will allow the team in first place to finish the season alone at the top of the standings. I’m not sure why this isn’t really a thing in the football realm just yet, but we can try to make fetch happen and bring it over to the football side of things. So let’s apply it to the first-place Chicago Bears.
Any combination of three Bears wins or three losses by the Minnesota Vikings would lead to Chicago winning its first division title since 2010. That’s nifty, so let’s talk through it.
The Bears have four games left in their season, including tonight’s showdown against the Rams. Even if they were to lose tonight, the Bears should be favored against the Packers (4-7-1) and 49ers (2-10). And should the Bears take care of business at home against Green Bay in Week 15 and on the road in San Francisco a week later, they would need just one more thing to go their way in order to clinch a playoff spot by virtue of winning the division. Of course, trap-game losses to the Dolphins and Giants should serve as a reminder that there are no “gimme” games in the NFL.
Not beating the Giants in Week 13 was an unwanted wrinkle, but it wasn’t the end of the world. The Bears still control their own destiny, but a win on Sunday night could make for some smoother sailing down the stretch.
And to think, we’ve only tackled one part of the equation here.
Scoreboard watching begins in earnest on Monday when the Vikings travel to play the Seahawks and will be road underdogs. A Seahawks win would trim the Bears’ magic number by one, meaning all the Bears would have to do is handle business against teams they are favored to beat to win the division. Because if they don’t, things could get messy. Minnesota is expected to be favored Week 15 against the Dolphins, Week 16 on the road against the Lions, and Week 17 at home against the Bears. If the Vikings pulled off an upset on the road, it would throw a real wrench in Chicago’s dreams of winning the division.
Now that we know who we’re rooting for (the Bears, as well as whoever is playing the Vikings), let’s finish this season on a high note.