Yesterday's 10-3 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was a tough pill to swallow for Chicago Bears players, coaches and fans. Chicago came into the contest having lost just one game at Soldier Field all season – to the Green Bay Packers in Week 3. The Chiefs were riding a four-game losing streak and were starting a backup quarterback, Tyler Palko, whom had thrown 6 INTs and 0 TDs in his last two starts.
What transpired was an absolute mess. The Bears wasted opportunity after opportunity and were beat on a fluke Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half.
The loss drops Chicago to 7-5 on the season, yet amazingly, they are still right in the thick of the playoff hunt. Because of losses yesterday by the Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys, all of whom have identical 7-5 records, the Bears didn't lose any ground in the NFC playoff picture.
Right now, Chicago is in charge of the fifth playoff spot in the NFC. The club has a tiebreaker win over the Falcons due to beating them in Week 1. The Bears and Lions have the same record, and split their two meeting this year, so the tiebreaker comes down to their respective records within the conference, in which Chicago has the edge.
If the playoffs were to start today the four division winners would be Dallas, Green Bay, San Francisco and New Orleans. The two wild card teams would be the Bears and Falcons. At this moment, the Lions are not a playoff team.
So despite the gut-wrenching loss yesterday, coupled with the injury to RB Matt Forte, not all hope is lost. The Bears do have to face the Packers in Green Bay in Week 16, but the team's other three contests – against Denver, Seattle and Minnesota – are all very winnable.
Right now, it's a matter of doing whatever it takes, no matter how ugly it may be to the TV viewers, to scrape out a playoff spot. It's likely Chicago will have to go 3-1 the rest of the way to secure a place in the NFC. Yet if the rest of the division keeps losing, a 2-2 record could be good enough.
Essentially, Chicago controls its own fate. The question is can the team rise up, push past the past two losses and make a serious playoff run? Without the club's best two offensive players, that will be a tough task.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.