With the NFC playoff picture nearly set, Week 17 becomes crucial for a handful of teams. At this moment, the Packers, Saints, Seahawks, and Buccaneers have all earned a spot in the postseason. However, with regards to the potential Bears playoff matchups, only the teams who have a shot to be a top-three seed have a realistic chance to match up with the Bears.
This is because Chicago has had quite the roller coaster of a year.
They started out undefeated until they lost in week four to the Colts. The coaching staff then benched Mitch Trubisky for Nick Foles, only to have Trubisky come back and play great football by Week 12. He’s played so well, it’s to the point where the Bears organization is going to have to seriously consider giving him an extension this offseason.
At the end of the day though, Chicago is knocking on the door of a playoff berth, as they currently reside as the seventh seed in the NFC. With just one game remaining against the Packers, the Bears are in a “win and in” situation. A feat much easier said than done, as Green Bay is playing for the ultra-important, number one seed in the NFC. Luckily, winning this game isn’t Chicago’s only option to clinch a playoff spot, as a loss from the Arizona Cardinals will guarantee the Bears playoff security.
Considering Chicago’s playoff berth would be the seventh seed, the possible Bears playoff matchups for the first round are limited to just three teams. If Chicago has plans to make a deep run into the playoffs, it’s going to be an uphill battle. As for Wild Card Weekend, here are the three potential Chicago Bears playoff matchups.
Likely Bears Playoff Matchups
New Orleans Saints
At this moment, the New Orleans Saints hold the two seed in the NFC, as they have already clinched the NFC South. They still have a shot at first place, but there is also a scenario where they fall to third. If everything stays the same, the Bears will have to travel to New Orleans during Wild Card Weekend. This makes them the most likely of all the possible Bears playoff matchups.
It’s been an interesting year for the Saints, to say the least. Alvin Kamara has been playing out of his mind, Drew Brees suffered a rib injury, which gave us a possible outlook on the Saints’ future QB situation, and Michael Thomas has been out for most of 2020 after suffering an injury way back in week one. Even after facing adversities this year, the Saints have found their way to an 11-4 record and seem poised to make a deep run in the playoffs.
For the Bears, this would be a difficult matchup to go up against. Even without Thomas, the Saints have been one of the top offenses in the league, as they’re currently ranked 8th in total offense, 18th in passing offense, 6th in rushing offense, and 4th in points scored. On top of that, New Orleans has also been one of the top defenses in the NFL, as they’re ranked within the top six in passing and rushing defense.
If this matchup comes to fruition, Chicago would definitely have to step their game up. The defense would likely keep them in it, as they would go into this game with the strategy of stopping the run, and challenging Brees to throw the ball. It’s weird to say that now after watching Brees light it up throughout his career, but considering he’s aging and nearly immobile, Khalil Mack and the Bears’ front seven would be looking to feast in the backfield in this game.
At the end of the day, this matchup is likely the one Bears fans would want the most, considering the Saints passing game isn’t where it was last year. It leaves New Orleans vulnerable, but this is still an incredibly difficult game and would be an uphill battle for the Chicago Bears.
This would be one of the more interesting of the potential Bears playoff matchups if it were to happen. Russell Wilson has been incredible for most of the year, while DK Metcalf emerged as a top WR in the league. Not to mention, they have one of the better coaching staffs in the NFL, as Pete Carroll and company have put their players in a position to win every week.
However, the reason this game would be interesting comes down to two facts. First, it seems like the Seahawks are one of those teams that constantly play down to their opponent’s level. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to watch Seattle march down the field and win the game on the final drive. It’s all become a blur, and now I just stereotype this franchise as a team that always plays in crazy, uncharacteristically great games. The second fact is that the Seahawks are ranked dead last when it comes to defending the pass.
This fact may be the reason why every Seattle game comes down to the wire. Nearly every team they’ve faced this season has been able to pick apart their defense through the air. In order for the Bears to win this matchup, they’d have to rely on Trubisky, who has been balling out since returning as the starter in Week 12. Since his return, Trubisky has thrown for 1,243 yards along with 10 touchdowns. Chicago would need him to continue his excellent play if they’re going to have a chance to win this game. Especially since the Seahawks defense is ranked as the fifth-best rushing defense this year.
When it comes down to it, the Seattle Seahawks would be the sure-fire favorites in this matchup, but the Bears would have a chance if Trubisky can play his best football like he has these past five weeks. Keep in mind, anything can happen on any given Sunday, and it’s not like we’ve never witnessed the last seed upset a top seed before.
Green Bay Packers
Finally, the last possibility of all of the Chicago Bears playoff matchups is the Green Bay Packers. This is one of the oldest rivalries in sports, and would simply make for a great game with everything on the line. If this matchup were to happen, that means the Bears found a way to beat the Packers in Week 17, which would add confidence to this Chicago franchise. Not to mention, the Bears fan base would be ecstatic.
When it comes to division rivals, it’s almost like the level of talent dissolves away, as facing an opponent twice a season every year allows for each of those franchises to figure out their rivals much easier.
Now, even though Aaron Rodgers has been playing at an MVP level, Chicago just may be able to chip away at the gun-slinging veteran during Wild Card weekend. Chicago has an excellent defense that attacks the backfield and ranks 10th in points allowed. The other player the Bears should worry about though is Davante Adams. He’s been the best wide receiver in the league this year, and Rodgers seems to always find him open. Chicago’s defense would have their work cut out for them in this one.
Where Chicago has the advantage though, would be in the run game. Since Week 12, David Montgomery has been one of the better running backs in the league. During this five-game stretch, Montgomery has blasted for 529 yards and six touchdowns. He’s been the main focal point of the Bears’ recent success, and Green Bay’s weakness on defense is stopping the run. Chicago’s strategy for this matchup is simple; grind the clock, run the ball, and keep Rodgers and Adams off of the field. A game plan much easier said than done, as we just witnessed the Packers demolish the Tennessee Titans, who have a much superior offense to the Bears.
This game would be a long-shot for Chicago to win, as are the other two matchups. However, when it comes to the postseason, everything that happened in the regular season doesn’t matter anymore. With the Bears having figured their woes out since Week 12, they very well could be a team that shocks the world in the first round if they make it to the playoffs.
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