Just when I was just about ready to fully embrace the tank and all that comes with it, the Chicago Bears pulled me back into thinking about a potential playoff run. And while nothing about yesterday’s game is swaying my feelings about the big-picture (and shouldn’t change yours!), the truth remains they’re mathematically in play for a postseason spot.
Moreover, their upcoming games provide a realistic chance at making the postseason.
First, a check on the standings:
NFC North Standings:
1. Green Bay Packers-x: 10-3
2. Minnesota Vikings: 6-7
3. Chicago Bears: 6-7
4. Detroit Lions: 5-8
That lower-case “x” next to the Packers denotes they’ve won the division. [Unintelligible grumbling.]
The Race For the No. 7 Seed
The playoff odds report from Football Outsiders is another source to get a feel for what the Bears playoffs odds stand. Football Outsiders simulates the season 30,000 times based on their rating system. From there, mean wins, as well as odds for playoff seed, division, wild card, and total playoff odds are shared.
For this segment, we’ll focus in on the Bears’ odds of landing that No. 7 seed:
Cardinals (7-6): 38.9%
BEARS (6-7): 18.9%
Vikings (6-7): 14.3%
No one said it was going to be easy. But I’ll admit I got a hearty chuckle out of the Bears having a better chance at getting it than the Vikings, who currently hold a tie-breaker in the head-to-head. The simulations at Football Outsiders must like the Bears by that much more.
Introducing Steve Kornacki:
Steve Kornacki gained a cult following with his coverage and breakdown of the 2020 Presidential Election. Now, NBC Sports has brought Kornacki on board to breakdown NFL postseason odds. The beautiful thing about math is that it’s the same across the board. In other words, Kornacki’s experience breaking down odds and probabilities on one side of the spectrum can be helpful in his doing the same on the football side. Math is math.
As for the Bears, Sunday’s win against the Texans resulted in an up-tick in Chicago’s chances of making the playoffs:
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) December 14, 2020
A whole 14 percent! Hey, it’s better than 0 percent. And it’s a slight upgrade from the 8 percent chance Chicago had coming into the game.
With the division out of play, let’s check out the latest from FiveThirtyEight, whose QB-adjusted Elo forecast is based on 50,000 simulations of what’s left of the season. Here’s how things shape up at the moment based on FiveThirtyEight’s odds:
As you can see, the Bears and Vikings trail the Cardinals by just one game. But Arizona has a much higher probability of getting into the postseason. However, that’s not set in stone. So let’s check out how it can change this weekend.
• Bears WIN, Vikings LOSE gets the Bears to 44%.
• If the Cardinals also LOSE, the Bears’ odds bump up to 64%
• But if the Cardinals WIN, the Bears’ playoff probabilities jump up to just 34%
So if you’re rooting for an unpredictable finish to the 2020 football season, then I imagine the pom-poms are out for the Bears and Eagles this weekend. Hey … doesn’t Doug Pederson owe Matt Nagy a favor for 2018?
In the End…:
Ultimately, we’re talking about long-shot chances of making the playoffs. Making the playoffs, while it feels improbable, isn’t impossible. For some of us, the tease of a postseason run is just that — a tease. Then again, isn’t one reason we watch sports in the first place is to see how completely scripted drama unfolds? To see improbable happen? In conclusion, I’m ready to pull up a chair and see something unexpected happen this weekend. After that, we’ll see how the rest of the cookie crumbles.