It’s not a must win for the Chicago Bears on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, but it’s awful close.
With their heartbreaking (and disappointing loss) tot he New Yor Giants last week, the Chicago Bears have left themselves little margin for error the rest of the way. I’m not suggesting fans need to sound the alarm bells and begin to panic, but their upcoming game against the Los Angeles Rams is a critical one.
Look, according to Football Outsiders, the Bears chances of making the playoffs sit at 96 percent. According to FiveThirtyEight, it’s still an impressive 94 percent and only drops to 90 percent even with a loss on Sunday Night at Soldier Field.
So I get that from a statistical perspective the Rams game is of little consequence in the overall scheme of the Bears’ playoff chances. And with the loss to the Giants, you can all but forget about a shot at a first-round bye, so really we’re talking about finishing as the third seed and hosting a first-round playoff game.
However, statistics don’t take into account history, and nerves, and pressure, and the craziness associated with playing division rivals. The reason the Bears playoff chances are so high and remain high even with a loss is that from a statistical standpoint, they were never expected to beat the Rams. The algorithm favors them heavily against the Green Bay Packer and San Francisco 49ers, which would get them to 10 wins and surely be enough to earn a playoff berth.
That sounds great in theory but as the Giants game showed us, anything can happen on any given Sunday. Yes, the Bears were playing with their backup quarterback, but even with Chase Daniel, they should have beaten the Giants.
So why is the Rams game so pivotal? Because after this the Packers come to Soldier Field. I understand they are having a down year, and are in the midst of chaos having just fired their head coach, Mike McCarthy.
But as a Bears fan, can you ever really write off Aaron Rodgers? And you know he would love nothing more than to spoil the Bears’ season with his all but over. Finally, there is something about the Packers coming in with a new head coach trying to spoil the Bears season that makes me nervous.
Next, they travel to San Francisco and should take care of business there, though it is on the road, and they’ll have to travel cross-country. But let’s assume that’s a win for the Monsters. That sets up another road game to end the season in Minnesota where the Vikings could very well be playing for the playoff lives. If the Bears lose to both the Rams and Packers, they could be doing the same.
Personally, I don’t want to envision a scenario in which the Bears have to beat the Vikings on the road to make the playoffs. However, if they lose to the Rams, whether that comes to pass will depend on the Packers game. In other words, if Sunday night doesn’t break their way, the Packers game will essentially be a play-in game. I’ve been a fan of the Bears too long to feel comfortable in that kind of scenario. So let’s take that option off the table and hope for a Bears win in primetime.