Still first in their division, the Bears have their sights set on a lot more than a draft pick in 2018

When the Bears grabbed hold of first place in the NFC North following their 16-14 win over the Cardinals – all the way back in Week 3 – it seemed like a gimmick. A joke. A bit of fun before the inevitable kicked in and the Bears played like trash, letting the Vikings and Packers take over.

Enjoy it while it lasts, I said – and who would disagree? It seemed like there was no question the Bears would eventually settle around the .500 mark or below, still a year or so away from true contention.

And yet here we are.

So now that we’re entering the final stretch of this surprising Bears season, it’s time to talk playoff scenarios – yes, Jim Mora, settle down, it’s December. So here they are, from the most depressing to the most hubris-inducing, all the places the Bears can find themselves in come January.

0-4 – Faceplanting out of the picture

The first playoff scenario is missing them altogether, and going 0-for-December in the wins column. And it’s not impossible – sure, the Packers’ hopes are trashed at this point (don’t worry about Mike McCarthy, I’m sure he’ll find a job soon enough), but the Vikings are still hanging around and the Bears didn’t do themselves any favors losing to the Giants last week.

What if last week was a sign of things to come? What if Trubisky doesn’t come back 100% healthy, or injures himself even worse? Yeah, these are the New Bears ™, but maybe they’ve still got hints of the Marc Trestman/John Fox sub-.500 Bears that we’ve had to endure since 2013?

And yet… even while losing to a terrible team, the Bears worked magic like they always do. They’ve never been truly out of any of their losses, and that says a lot about this team. So yeah, gotta get the sky-is-falling stuff out there, but I don’t see this happening.

1-3 – Falling to the Wild Card

A somewhat more likely scenario is that the Bears stumble instead of faceplanting completely, losing their divisional lead and falling to a Wild Card spot. Their schedule isn’t easy, and it plays somewhat into the Vikings’ hands, as Chicago has to deal with the Rams and Packers before heading to Minnesota for the final game of the season.

Doing this poorly would leave the Bears at 9-7, which doesn’t even guarantee they lose the division as the Vikings would have to put together at least a 3-1 December record – including a win against the Bears – to make up for the deficit they already find themselves in.

This would be depressing too, but hey, a playoff spot is a playoff spot, and I’m sure we all would’ve taken this instead of whatever’s behind Door #2 if the choice were offered at the start of the season.

2-2 or 3-1 – Taking back the North

If the Bears play at least .500 ball the rest of the way, it’d be pretty damn hard for the Vikings to do anything about the current state of things. Short of running the table, 1.5 games is a lot of ground to make up in four weeks of football, and if they can’t win against the Bears in Week 17 it’s moot anyway.

This is, not surprisingly, the most likely scenario by far. A 2-2 record down the stretch notches a 10-win season for the Bears (which the Vikings could only surpass by going 4-0), while a 3-1 record clinches the division outright at 11-5. That remaining schedule isn’t easy for the Bears, but they’ve already beaten the Vikings, should have beaten the Packers, and shouldn’t (knock on wood) have any problems with the 2-10 (lmao) 49ers.

And you know what? I’m not counting them out against the Rams, either. Not totally.

4-0 – Running the whole damn table

If the Bears KO-ed the Rams in primetime, you’d figure they could ride that high all the way through December and end up at a nice 12-4 final mark. It wins the division, obviously – but would it even matter?

Well… maybe. Losing to the Giants hurt – like, a lot. Especially after the Cowboys knocked off the high-and-mighty Saints to hand them their second loss. Before stumbling out of New York as losers for the first time in more than a calendar month, the Bears were within striking distance of a first-round bye.

Now, though, it only seems like a fool’s hope. They’d have to run the table to even have a prayer, and that involves dispatching the aforementioned Rams. But… the Saints do have to deal with the 6-6 Panthers – twice – sandwiched around a Week 16 showdown against the Steelers, who suddenly have to play a lot tougher to hold onto their own division following two consecutive losses.

What I’m telling you, essentially…

…well, it’s more like there’s not no chance. Stranger things have happened.

Like, I dunno, the Bears scoring 10 points in under two minutes with one timeout behind a backup quarterback, a feat which required the third successful onside kick in the NFL all season. Or connecting on a Hail Mary on the last play of the game (even if it came up a yard short).

You know, that kind of thing. The impossible.

Man, it’s gonna be a lot of fun to watch these Bears. SQUAD UP!