Why the Chicago Bears Are Down but Not out of the NFC Playoff Race

Ross ReadContributor IIIDecember 12, 2012

Jay Cutler
Jay CutlerMatthew Stockman/Getty Images

Five weeks ago the Chicago Bears looked like one of the more dominant teams in the NFL. Since then, they have lost four out of five games and now find themselves in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight year. With the Green Bay Packers coming up, this team is down but certainly not out. 

Currently the Bears sit sixth in the playoff picture behind the Seattle Seahawks, who hold the tiebreaker due to their stunning victory in Soldier Field in Week 13. Seattle has Buffalo this week which would look like a clear advantage for the Seahawks, but they have struggled on the road this season. Factor in the fact they have the 49ers left on their schedule, and their playoff berth is not secure quite yet.

As you look around the league, the Cowboys and Redskins have emerged as serious contenders. With the injuries to Dez Bryant and Robert Griffin III, however, both teams' chances have taken a hit. They have a Week 17 matchup in Washington that could be the deciding factor for a final playoff berth. 

After beating the Bears, the Vikings have now emerged as a playoff contender. They will have an uphill battle, though, as their last three games include the Rams, Texans and Packers. 

The Bears can get help from other teams, but they need to take care of their own. They can start by beating the Green Bay Packers this upcoming weekend. They will have the odds stacked against them as the Packers are rolling into Soldier Field winning seven out of their last eight and have beaten the Bears six straight times. 

If the Bears can not get past the Packers, all is still not lost. Their last two games against the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions are winnable games. Both teams seem to have mailed in their seasons and will be playing for nothing but pride at the end of the season. 

What needs to happen is this team needs to play with a fire. Injuries are a part of the game so that should no longer be an excuse. The offense has lacked passion and an identity all season, but now is the perfect time for them to carry this team to the playoffs. 

The Bears can sneak up to the fifth playoff spot when this is all over. To finish strong would mean an 11-5 season, which is still a major accomplishment. Their destiny is in their own hands; they just can't drop it.