Chicago Bears fans, if your team makes the playoffs this year, be sure to send Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker a Christmas card. Against the Detroit Lions last night, Tucker booted six field goals, the last of which was a 61-yard game winner with less than a minute to play.
Tucker's kick, which barely made it over the crossbar, dropped the Lions to 7-7, which is a game behind the Bears at 8-6. With the Green Bay Packers at 7-6-1, Chicago is now in sole possession of first place in the NFC North.
If the Bears win this week on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles and next week at home against the Green Bay Packers, Chicago will head to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. They control their own destiny and do not need help from anyone else at this point.
Things aren't looking good for the Lions, despite playing two sub-.500 teams to finish the year. Either the Bears or Packers will pick up a win in the season finale, which means if both teams win this week, Detroit will officially be eliminated from the postseason.
If that scenario plays out, the Bears and Packers could end up in a one-game playoff at Soldier Field on December 29. The contest is scheduled for noon but it's possible the game, which may have huge playoff indications, could be flexed to Sunday night. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still recovering from a collarbone injury and has not been cleared to play. That said, most assume he'll be ready to go by next week, if not this week.
Buckle up Bears fans. Just a few weeks ago, it appeared all hope was lost. Now, things are about to get very interesting.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.