The NFC features seven teams with at least five wins, yet one team is looking on the outside of the playoff picture. Since divisional winners get an automatic playoff berth as one of the top four seeds, the 5-3 Chicago Bears are sitting as the No. 8 seed. This is all despite the Philadelphia Eagles owning a 3-4-1 overall record.
The Bears are among other bubble teams as we enter the halfway point of the NFL season. As the playoff picture continues to change, these three bubble teams are going to find a way into the playoffs.
Let’s start with the biggest bubble team of them all. The Bears are in the middle of a two-game losing streak after falling to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football and then the New Orleans Saints in overtime on Sunday. The loss dropped the team to 5-3 and the team’s next matchup with the Tennessee Titans does not make qualifying for the NFL playoffs any easier.
With that said, even if the Bears drop to 5-4 next week, the team has a shot of making the postseason. It’s all going to come down to how far will this defense take them? After the Titans, the Bears have two non-conference dates with the Texans and the Jaguars, who have a combined 2-12 record this season. Picking up those two wins will be critical. After that, it’s going to come down to what happens in the division.
The Bears have one more matchup with the Lions (winnable) and then two games each with the Vikings and Packers. Even if the Bears split those games, the team would be at 10 wins. Just like the Bears overall offense, everything is really up in the air.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Remember when the Bucs were considered bona fide Super Bowl contenders? Now, the team is currently the No. 6 seed in the current playoff structure. With all that said, the Bucs have one of the easier paths towards making the postseason. That’s in part to having matchups with the Lions, Vikings, and Falcons (twice) left on the schedule.
Even without the result of Monday Night Football’s matchup with the Giants, the team has a clear path towards getting to 10 wins. Tom Brady, even at age 43, is one of the best crunch time players in the league’s history. With a light at the end of the tunnel, do you really believe that Brady is not going to lead this team towards playing in January? Don’t count on it.
Los Angeles Rams
The NFC West is potentially the best division in all football. As we speak, the Seahawks (No. 1), Arizona Cardinals (No. 5), and Rams (No. 7) would all make the postseason if it was January. The San Francisco 49ers (No. 9) are right in the mix too. However, compared to the 49ers, the Rams have the easier schedule, but most importantly, they are healthy.
The 49ers just saw quarterback Jimmy Garappolo, tight end George Kittell, and running back Tevin Coleman leave Sunday’s action early. Both Garappolo and Coleman appeared to have re aggravated injuries that have kept them out of games earlier this season, while Kittell received positive news about negative X-rays for his foot injury.
In the end, the Rams have the Jets and Patriots on their schedule along with their intra divisional opponents. The 49ers have the Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys, but that’s later in the season. The 49ers have a stretch against the Packers, Bills, and Saints and could be without two of their best players. The Rams have the better path, and own the tiebreaker over the Bears.