There may be some debate among the national media whether or not the Vikings will catch the Bears. The point will be moot if the Bears go to Tampa and come away with a win.
If the playoffs were to start today the Bears would be the second seed in the NFC and have a first round bye. Heading into Week 12 of the regular season, there were five teams at 7-3 with the Seattle Seahawks sitting atop the conference at 8-2. The Bears would get the nod because of their 6-1 record in the NFC.
While there is a lot of football to be played between now and the start of the postseason, the dream could become a reality with a victory over Tampa Bay. A seventh straight win would move the Bears to 8-3 and drop the Buccaneers to 7-4.
The Bears got some help while eating their Thanksgiving turkey from the Broncos. Denver's 24-21 overtime win over the Cowboys dropped Dallas to 7-4.
The Giants (7-3) travel to Seattle, which means the Bears will gain a game on one of them. Carolina looks to bounce back at Buffalo, but by virtue of the Bears 13-3 win they own the tiebreaker over the Panthers.
The Bears have two games left with the Packers, which in previous years would have meant trouble. However, Green Bay is in the division cellar at 2-8 and if Bears can't get the best of Brett Favre this year it's never going to happen.
The trip to Pittsburgh is going to be tough, but even if the Bears were to lose to the Steelers it wouldn't impact their conference record.
A home date against Atlanta is definitely winnable. The Falcons rebounded against the Lions, but the recent loss to Green Bay at home exposed some holes. The Bears have the speed on defense to neutralize Michael Vick and the strength up front to control the powerful Atlanta running game.
Some may say the season finale at Minnesota could determine the NFC North winner. If the Bears sweep the Packers, the Vikings would have to go at least 3-2 to have a shot at the division title. A loss to Detroit would be a crushing blow because the second tiebreaker after head to head is the record within the division. The Bears are currently 3-0, while the Vikings are 3-1.
There's a better chance the visit to Metrodome will decide if the Bears get a week off in January. The outcome could also determine if the road to Super Bowl XL goes through Chicago.