But as long as there is a dash of hope, I reckon we can piece together a path to the postseason. Now, it won’t be easy, and the Bears will need a ton of help along the way for it to happen. So with that in mind, let’s briefly outline what needs to happen in order for the Bears to have a puncher’s chance to make the playoffs.
It all starts with some small steps this week that begin with the help from some friends. Here is a list of teams the Bears should be rooting for on Sunday while they are waiting to kick off against the Rams:
- Broncos at Vikings
- Falcons at Panthers
- Lions vs. Cowboys
- Patriots at Eagles
*tugs nervously at collar*
Well, this already looks like a mighty large ask. Of the teams listed above, only the Eagles are underdogs in their Sunday matchup. The Patriots are coming off a bye and an ugly-looking prime-time loss that catapulted Lamar Jackson’s MVP candidacy, which means this is the type of spot where New England gets a revenge game of sort. Otherwise, it doesn’t look too great.
The Cowboys are 7-point road favorites against the Lions, who start Jeff Driskel (again) and could be without Matthew Stafford for the next six weeks. In Minnesota, the Vikings are 10-point favorites against Vic Fangio’s Broncos. Maybe the ex-Bears DC has an idea on how to slow down a resurgent Kirk Cousins and a running game that has been on a roll since being stopped in its track by the Bears. That leaves the Panthers, who are 3.5-point favorites against the Falcons. Atlanta just knocked off the Saints on the road, and the NFC South can be a topsy-turvy wild ride at times. With that being said, it would be foolish to rule out the Falcons before this one even kicks off.
An updated version of FiveThirtyEight’s playoff QB-adjusted Elo forecast, the Bears have a 6 percent chance of making the playoffs. If they were to get help from the Broncos, Falcons, Lions, and Patriots, their probabilities would rise by 3 percentage points to 9 percent. It’s not nothing! But if the Bears were able to tack on a win to that, then those odds jump to 21 percent! In this scenario, the Seahawks, Vikings, Eagles, and Cowboys would still have better chances of making the postseason as a wild-card contender. But leap-frogging the Rams and Panthers would make for a good start if the Bears were serious about hitting that comeback trail.
The most important thing for Chicago tonight would be to win in Los Angeles. And while this team hasn’t provided much (if any) reason to think a turnaround is coming, this group has the next seven games to prove the math (and logic) wrong. Winning tonight would give the Bears some serious juice heading into Week 12 … but we have about seven hours until we start thinking about crossing that bridge.