Chicago Bears have one less NFC playoff contender to deal with

Chicago Bears (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /

After a Christmas Day loss by their divisional foe, the Chicago Bears see one less NFC playoff contender to deal with.

Going into Week 16, the Chicago Bears technically had three teams they were battling with for playoff position in the NFC. Ahead of them are the seventh seeded Arizona Cardinals at 8-6 and the sixth seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 9-5.

Before the Bears square off against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, they get to watch both of the teams they’re looking up at take the field first.

The Cardinals take on the San Francisco 49ers today, and with a loss would give the Bears a whole lot of hope. If the Cardinals lose one of their final two games and the Bears manage to win their last two, Chicago sneaks into the postseason as the seven seed.

The Buccaneers are the earliest game of the day, though, battling the Detroit Lions, who have nothing left to play for except their pride. If the Bucs somehow lost to the Lions, and then again in Week 17, and the Cardinals and Bears both ended up at 9-7 as well, Chicago would get in by way of a tiebreaker due to beating Tampa Bay earlier in the year.

But, below the Bears and also fighting for the playoffs before this weekend are the Minnesota Vikings. On Christmas Day, they managed to keep it somewhat close with the New Orleans Saints for the majority of the game.

But, in the fourth quarter, the Saints took over en route to a 52-33 victory — thanks to a 6-touchdown effort from Alvin Kamara.

With the loss, the Vikings dropped to 6-9 and are now eliminated from playoff contention. Going into that game, Minnesota was still mathematically involved in the postseason race.

Sunday against the Jaguars, the Bears are going to be without two key starters on defense: Cornerback Jaylon Johnson and nickel back Buster Skrine. Otherwise, they go into the game with a few players questionable who will, in all likelihood, suit up.

Chicago’s defense should have no problem shutting down the Jaguars offense who may be without stud rookie running back James Robinson. After missing practice all week, Robinson has said he wishes to play, but that remains to be seen as official.

The Bears’ offense has come to life over the past few weeks with Mitchell Trubisky taking back his starting job. Sure, the opposing defenses haven’t been world beaters, but Trubisky has taken what the defenses have given to him and benefited greatly from a dominant rushing attack.

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The Jaguars are a great matchup for the Bears’ offense, who will again look to right the ship in terms of scoring points. If they can come away with a win, they’ll be in prime shape for a highly-meaningful matchup in Week 17 against the Packers.