Following their 31-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys Thursday night, the Chicago Bears are over .500 for the first time since Week 7. More importantly, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive. Every NFL season, there is one team that makes a playoff run in December where everything goes right for them. This season, the Bears will be that team.
Heading into December, there is always one team that has the slimmest chance of making the playoffs sitting at six or seven wins. They win their last three or four games, while other teams in playoff contention collapse down the stretch. Some of the teams that have made this December run include the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2010 Green Bay Packers, 2012 Minnesota Vikings, 2017 Buffalo Bills, and the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles.
Chicago has three games remaining in 2019 in which they play the Green Bay Packers on the road, host the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16, and finish the season in Minnesota against the Vikings for the fourth consecutive year. Although these opponents are tough, they are winnable games for the Bears, especially with how those opponents have been performing recently.
For the Bears to make the playoffs, they would need to win those three games. When they play the Packers, they will get a huge boost defensively with the expected return of Pro-Bowl Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. The Packers defense has allowed 22 points more to opposing offenses in seven games since the season opener.
Although the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense is one of the best in the league, they have had issues winning consistently as they are 3-4 in their last seven games. Injuries and an unstable running game have plagued the offense and their failure to control games. Bears head coach Matt Nagy will need to have his best-devised game plan of the season when he coaches against his former team and mentor in head coach Andy Reid.
If the Bears are 9-6 heading into the season finale, there is a good chance the game against the Vikings would be a “winner-take-all” game for the final NFC playoff spot. Chicago needs Minnesota to lose one of their next three games against the Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers, and Green Bay Packers for them to be able to overtake them with a win in Week 17. All pressure would be on Minnesota in this situation given that they were in the same position last season and failed to capitalize.
The Bears need help with the Los Angeles Rams also. The Rams are the other playoff team ahead of the Bears in the standings and would need to lose two of their last four games for the Bears to get it. Los Angeles’ remaining four games are against the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and Arizona Cardinals. With the Seahawks and 49ers fighting for both the NFC West Division title and a Divisional round home game, they could very difficult matchups for the Rams.
All together the Bears need to win their final three games while the Vikings and Rams need to lose a combined three games over the next three weeks. Chicago is playing its best football of the season right now as they have won four of their last five games. The offense and defense both appear to be playing better now compared to earlier this season. If everything continues the way it is, The Bears will be that December team that ends up playing in January unexpectedly.