The playoff picture became clearer yesterday so as there’s not much confusion about what needs to happen for the Bears to make the postseason.
First and foremost, the Bears have to beat the Packers tonight and the Texans next week. One loss and they’re done.
In the wild card chase, the Bears can sneak in with a Cowboys loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia — a definite possibility — and a Buccaneers loss to the Raiders in Tampa Bay — a not-so-likely scenario.
But if the Bears were to snatch the second wild card, they’d have the honor of facing Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs and gaining a huge measure of revenge. It would be big opportunity to get it out of the way now as opposed to having to wait a full year until next season.
As for the division title — again, assuming the Bears win their two remaining games — if the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants can go into Minnesota and knock off the Vikings, you’re looking at the 2008 NFC North champion Chicago Bears.
Before we get to that point, obviously, we have to take Step 1 tonight, which is to beat a competitive Packers team whose record does them no justice.
Unfortunately, motivation — and there’s plenty of it for the Bears who realize they still have a good shot at winning the division — will not be enough to win this game. It’ll take an increased individual performance from every player on the team and as few mistakes as possible. I feel confident in the Bears’ special teams to give both the offense and defense good field position all game. And I feel confident in the offense to move the ball against this Packers defense to take time off the clock and keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline.
What I don’t have as much confidence in is the Bears’ pass defense — the Achilles’ heel all season — getting pressure on and stopping Rodgers and the Packers’ offense.
On the weather front, kickoff tonight should be single digits with a “feels like” temperature below zero. But this isn’t exactly advantageous to either team because both teams have to play in this weather. If anything, it could be a boost to the Packers, who might not have to deal with crowd noise because fans generally become quieter due to muffled cheers and padded clapping. I certainly hope the 4th Phase is loud and proud tonight.
The game has been analyzed and the Bears are well rested after 11 days since they last played. Now it’s time to go to work, get some revenge on the Packers, and go get a playoff spot — with a little help next week.