Alright, So Now Where Do the Bears’ Playoff Odds Stand?

It’s amazing to think there was a time when the Chicago Bears had a better probability of landing a top-10 pick than a playoff spot.

But as we’ve previously discussed, the unpredictability of the oddly shaped bouncing ball never goes where you expect. That’s why they play the game. And ultimately, it’s why we watch — to see something we’ve not seen before.

With that being said, Bears fans are watching to see something they didn’t think was probable after racking up a sixth straight defeat when they lost to the Lions a few weeks ago. Landing a playoff berth is realistic after beating the Vikings. And while the Bears need help, their path to January football is growing clearer. Let’s follow that path.

Playoff Scenarios and Bears Rooting Interests

The Bears could’ve clinched a playoff spot as early as this week had the Eagles beaten the Cardinals in Week 15, and if the Bears, Saints, and 49ers won their respective Week 16 matchups. But naturally, Philly did Chicago no favors as it fell to Arizona on Sunday afternoon. Frankly, if I’m Matt Nagy, I’m leaving my good friend Doug Pederson on read until further notice.

On the bright side, there are other postseason scenarios for Chicago’s football team:

Want to see the Bears complete their improbably late-season run with a playoff appearance? Cool. Moving forward, your favorite teams are the Bears, 49ers, and Rams. Are you ready to root for Robbie Gould again? Of course you are! And I suppose former Bears OLB Leonard Floyd (and position coach Brandon Staley’s presence as the Rams defensive coordinator) makes it easy to root for that squad.

But also, beware of the Vikings. Yesterday’s loss was a dagger, but there are still faint hopes for playoff life. Minnesota needs to win its final two games against the Saints and Lions, then needs one Bears loss and two more by the Cardinals. It’s an unlikely scenario, especially with how that Vikings defense played yesterday. But it’s one that still exists.

The Race For the No. 6 Seed

The only thing more improbable than a run to the postseason would be a jump all the way to the sixth seed. It’s unlikely, but not impossible. Hence, we’re talking about it.

For this scenario to play out, the Bears would need a pair of wins to wrap up the season at 9-7. From there, they’ll need the Buccaneers to fall apart down the stretch. Tampa Bay plays the Lions in Detroit this week, then finishes up at home against Atlanta. Tom Brady’s bunch will be favorites to win those games, but there’s a non-zero chance the Bucs trip up twice down the stretch.

The playoff odds report from Football Outsiders gives the Bears a 1.4 percent chance of making the playoffs as the No. 6 seed. Football Outsiders’ projections are based on 30,000 simulations based on their ratings system. Those are slim odds, but better than they were a week ago. Overall, Football Outsiders gives the Bears a 35.5 percent chance at making the postseason. That’s a 13.5 percentage point increase from last week!

Steve Kornacki’s Projections Give the Bears Better Odds Than Last Week:

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.

Chicago’s win in Minnesota moved the needle just a bit:

https://twitter.com/BN_Bears/status/1340826753296715777

A 27 percent chance of the Bears making the postseason is a leap from 14 percent at the end of last week’s action. Altogether, it’s an increase of 19 percentage points from where Chicago was before the Texans game. In other words, things have gone right for the Bears since bottoming out against the Lions. Go figure.

FiveThirtyEight:

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:

Cardinals: 70% (+16%)
BEARS: 31% (+11%)
Vikings: 2% (-18%)

The only team who helped themselves more than the Bears by winning on Sunday was the Cardinals. Sheeesh! Again, if I was Matt Nagy, I’d stuff Doug Pederson’s stocking with coal and maybe one of those mini-bottles of Malört to show that I’m in the holiday spirit.

Anyway, here are some scenarios to keep tabs on in Week 16:

•   Bears WIN, Cardinals LOSE flips the numbers; gets the Bears to 73% (while dropping the Cardinals to 30%).
•   If the Bears and Cardinals WIN, it drops the Bears’ odds to 23% while lifting the Cardinals to 80%.
•   A Bears LOSS plus Cardinals win eliminates Chicago from postseason play.

I realize that players don’t tank, organizations do. So if the Jaguars want to pack it in as part of taking the next step toward Trevor Lawrence, then by all means, allow the Bears to waltz through Jacksonville and leave with a dub. We’ll cross that bridge with the Packers should they have nothing to play for if/when we get to it in Week 17.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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