Chicago Sun-Times

A more comprehensive look at the division race

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We tried to break down the NFC North race earlier in the week and forecast what would happen with tiebreakers that could come into play. Our initial finding was that it wasn't looking good for the Bears (6-6) if they wound up in a tie at season's end with Minnesota (7-5). The Vikings are in a position where they're ahead in most of the critical tiebreakers that are used.

That is still the case and as it stands now, if the Vikings win Sunday when they travel to Ford Field to face the winless (and hapless) Detroit Lions, the Bears are in a worse spot than they currently are. A Minnesota win Sunday would ensure the Vikings would win the division if they finish in a tie with the Bears.

A Lions' win over the Vikings and everything is wide open again when it comes to ties and the many scenarios that could be in play.

Bears PR man Mike Corbo breaks the entire scenario down:

Entering Sunday's action, the Chicago Bears (6-6) are one game behind NFC North leader Minnesota (7-5) and one game ahead of the Green Bay Packers (5-7) in a race for the division title. The remaining schedule for each team is the following:

Bears: vs. Jacksonville (4-8); vs. New Orleans (6-6); vs. Green Bay (5-7); at Houston (5-7).

Vikings: at Detroit (0-12); at Arizona (7-5); vs. Atlanta (8-4); vs. N.Y. Giants (11-1).

Packers: vs. Houston (5-7); at Jacksonville (4-8); at Chicago (6-6); vs. Detroit (0-12).

Tie Breakers: 1. In head-to-head competition: Bears vs. Vikings (1-1); Bears vs. Packers (0-1; Play Dec. 22 at CHI); Vikings vs. Packers (1-1).

2. Record against division opponents: Bears (3-2; vs. GB); Vikings (3-2; at DET); Packers (3-1; at CHI, vs. DET)

3. Common Games (non-division opponents): Bears (1-4; vs. JAX, vs. NO; at HOU); Vikings (4-3; vs. ATL); Packers (1-5; vs. HOU, at JAX)

4. Conference record: Bears (5-5; vs. NO, vs. GB); Vikings (5-3; at DET, at ARZ, vs. ATL, vs. NYG); Packers (4-6; at CHI; vs. DET)

What it all means for the Bears:

If the Vikings beat Detroit this weekend they would hold all tie-breakers over Chicago, which means the Bears would have to wind up with a better overall record than Minnesota to win the division. The Bears will have to win at least three of their remaining four contests in this scenario and have the Vikings lose their final three games (That would leave the Bears at 9-7 and the Vikings at 8-8).

If the Vikings win two of their remaining four contests with one being a victory at Detroit, the Bears have to win all four of their remaining contests (That would leave the Bears at 10-6 and the Vikings at 9-7). The Vikings win the division if they win at least three of their remaining four contests, including a win at Detroit, even if the Bears win all four games due to tie-breaker No. 4 (Conference Record).

If the Vikings lose to Detroit, the Bears can hold the tie-breaker by defeating the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 22 (Chicago would then hold tie-breaker No. 2 over Minnesota).

If the Vikings lose to the Lions and the Bears lose to Packers, Chicago will have to finish with a better overall record than Minnesota and Green Bay in order to win the division due to both teams holding tie-breakers over Chicago.

If the Vikings beat the Lions and the Bears lose to the Packers, Chicago would have to win all three other games and have the Vikings lose their remaining three and Green Bay lose at least once.

Thanks to Corbo for the full look at what Sunday's games will mean.

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Heya Brad,

Yeah, it's actually pretty simple to boil down. To beat out MIN for the division title, there are exactly 2 possible ways:
- Bears win 2+ more games than the Vikings do, or
- Bears win just 1 more game than the Vikings, as long as both DET beats MIN this week and CHI beats GB in 2 weeks.

As for beating out GB for the title, there are again exactly 2 possible ways:
- Bears win as many or more games than the Packers, or
- Bears and Packers both tie at 7-9 overall, where specifically CHI beats GB and loses the rest while GB also loses to DET but wins the rest. Comically if the Vikings lose out to also go 7-9, the Bears win the 3-way tie in this case.

Of note, if CHI can win at least 3 of 4, including vs GB, then GB cannot take the division.
Likewise, if MIN can win at least 3 of 4, including at DET, then neither GB and CHI can take the division.

Or if you prefer the bottom line, the most important factors to winning the division are:

1. Beat GB (*)
2. Have DET beat MIN (**)
3. Win 2 more games than MIN, or just 1 more if both (*) and (**) happen
4. Win as many games as GB, or...
Miracle Scenario:
5. Have DET beat GB, only if 1-3 happen but 4 doesn't

Believe it or not, that means if CHI beats JAC and DET beats MIN this week, the Bears are back in control of their destiny in the division.

Brad Biggs,

You sportwriters just don't get it.
Getting into the playoffs thru the back door?
Do you think that is going to satisfy the chicago fans?
Even if they made it to the playoffs which they don't deserve, they would be wiped out within the first quarter. Wishing and hoping doesn't make this team better.
After going to the superbowl and then to the gutter, there are more important problems to fix then just making the playoffs.
With a mediocre offense and a tanactious defense (remember that year when you sportwriters were attempting to compare this defense to the 1985 champions), they made to the superbowl. The fans expected improvement and all we got is excuses.
It is very probable that the reason their defense was so good was because of one person...Ron Rivera because this defense went straight to the gutter after Lovie fired Rivera.
It looks like the wrong people got fired.

Either way, the fans want a superbowl and not a 0ne-and-out in the playoffs. That is what you should be writing about. You should be sounding the horn to get this coaching staff and general manager out of this town as soon as second after the last game of the season.
I have said enough. I hope you get the message.

I agree with Val's comment about the Bears' chances if they make they make the playoffs but I don't agree with his asessment on how the fans will react. At the beginning of the season I predicted that the Bears would go 8-8 or 9-7 best case scenario. While most pundits and sports writers were expecting a 4-12 or even 3-13 season, I saw the Bears as a middle of the pack team. My prediction looks like its coming true. However, I certainly didn't expect the Bears to win the division with that record. So I'm partly happy with the position the team is in. They are a little better than what most anticipated. But once again they are falling apart at the end of the season. Every year this team fails to make a push unless they have been eliminated from playoff contention (for example 2 wins to end 2007). I would love to see them get in to the postseason no matter what the circumstances are. It will bring confidence to the entire organization and another division title will be great. Are they a Super Bowl contender? Not right now, but if they can win out or 3 of 4 and win the NFC north, who know what could happen. Thats why they play the games.

I definitely want to see our beloved Bears get into the playoffs. Anything can happen in the playoffs people, look at the Giants from last year; and besides that is what the regular season is all about, posturing your way into the playoffs(aka second season). But for now people, lets just worry about how the Bears front 7 is going to shut-down the Jags "2 headed monster" commonly known as Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. In my opinion one of the top three running combinations in the NFL.

And Brad Biggs, do you think we can rent a punter out this week? I am sure we can find someone in arena football to punt the ball 40 yards. I am challenging Brad Maynard to prove me wrong and NOT shank a 20 yard net punt this week. I do not mean to rag on Maynard all the time, but field position has hurt this team through out the course of this season. How many times have the defense had to come right back on the field after a tough defensive stance, and a 3 and out by our offense, with the opposing team on thier own 40 yard line?

Playoffs? We're talking playoffs after losing to Green Bay and Minnesota!

The only bright spot to this squad is: Matt Forte!

By Rocco:

"While most pundits and sports writers were expecting a 4-12 or even 3-13 season, I saw the Bears as a middle of the pack team. My prediction looks like its coming true."

Actually most saw the Bears having 6-7 wins and a few picked them to win there division. That said no one new Detroit would be as bad as they are not to mention the Rams. The Jags lost so many players that they are a shadow of there former selves. Lots of people think the Bears hould be 8-4 or 10-2 but if you look at it the Bears have had just about everything fall there wat and they managed to get too 500 in that situation. It's not like Denver who has really benifited from bad calls this year, but no Westbrook in the eagles game, and a Colts team that started the season with three Rookies on the Oline and Manning comming off his second surgery really helped the Bears out. Not to say they wouldn't have won those games anyway but it sure didn't hurt the bears that they were out. Heck even the Vikes gave the Bears that first win by shooting themselves in the foot on special teams. The could easily be a 4 win team right now.

By GenXfactor:

"But for now people, lets just worry about how the Bears front 7 is going to shut-down the Jags "2 headed monster" commonly known as Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. In my opinion one of the top three running combinations in the NFL."

Maybe but the Bears will put 8 in the Box, the Jags will have to pass to beat the Bears. The Jags are an average team that has had bad luck. I don't usually say luck but after what happened to Collier I really don't know what to call it. Mathis is out so there secondary is as messed up as there O-line. Bears should be able to run and Pass on the Jags. My worry is Houston and GB. Houston looks to be a playoff killer.

The Vikings will go 2-2 to finish the season. Likely beating the Lions (will probably be another embarrassing squeaker) and Falcons.

They have a shot at beating up on the Giants like they did last year, but I don't expect total domination of a Superbowl caliber team two years in a row.

Arizona on the road has a loss written all over it.

At 2-2 (beating the Lions) doesn't look well for your Bears. But never fret...the Vikings always struggle against the Lions no matter how crappy the Lions are. (we beat them by only 2 points at HOME! early in the season) It's the NFL, anything is possible.

Good luck against the'll need it after the last showing.

I know I previously said I hope the Bears don't make the playoffs for fear that certain people that did poorly would get a pass. Make the playoffs. It would be good for the city for one weekend to have a home playoff game. I guess, before, I was thinking that if they missed the playoffs, Lovie would have more incentive to do better, and get the correct personell.

It won't matter where the Bears draft whether it is 13 or 22. They had 14 last year, and left Otah, Albert, and Cherulius on the board after taking Williams. All 3 currently start at one or the other tackle spots for their respective teams this season. Chris Williams has done nothing. Bad pick. HE WAS INJURED!!! The run game would be better right now with either one of those 3. They would have a physical strength at that position.

This team just has to get rid of Babich, and draft better.In 2005, Orton and Vasher are the only ones still on the roster. In 2006, Manning, Hester, and Dvoracek are still on the team. In 2007, Olson, Payne, Graham, and McBride are still on the team. So far, 2008 looks to have a gem in Forte, and Marcus Harrison looks good too. Zack Bowman might turn out to be OK too. But too many disappointments in key spots to be good consistently. Not a first round draft pick has had a pro bowl for the Bears besides 2000 and 2004 (Urlacher, and Harris). Heck, not a first round pick since 2004 even starts for the Bears. Only 3 first round picks this decade are currently on the Bears. That is a lack of talent.

This year, Everett Brown (DE FSU), Sen'Derrick Marks (DT AUB), Ebon Britton (OT ARZ), Jerry Hughes (DE TCU), Terrance Cody (NT ALAB), Aaron Maybin (DE Penn ST), Michael Johnson (DE Georgia Tech), and Eugene Monroe (OT Virginia) are the top available lineman that should be there between 10-20 on draft day. At least 4 of these players will be. They need to do their homework now, and scratch players with injury histories. It is too much to risk in the first round.

Go Bears.

Say what you will.. this is one of the more screwed up years in bears football the viking's game was just the icing on the cake!

Thanks Ryan for the draft analysis -
`Only 3 first round picks this decade are currently on the Bears. That is a lack of talent'

Man, thats a lot of wasted picks. But Angelo seems to do better in the later rounds doesn't he? Sure hope so. I'm not sure I agree with Williams though as you said he was injured (your point I know), but he could turn out to be all pro and worth the pick as I really don't believe adding him to this years team would help at all, but I am hoping next year he will make it big.
I don't want the playoffs though, yeah give the McCaskeys mo money mo money mo money at the fans expense. I would rather have the lotto chance that JA can make a good first round high pick, I mean the odds are with him now. Do we need a Coaching staff that knows how to teach these guys the NFL tricks they need to know like brushing off a Corner or Holding a DT w/o getting flagged? There are tricks of the trade our players don't seem to know. Have you seen St.Clair? He doesn't look like someone in too good of shape does he nor does Tait. I feel Tony Dungy has the same demeaner (sp) as Lovie but gets better results, of course he has Manning and we have alot of wasted draft picks.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on December 3, 2008 10:56 PM.

Williams Wall crumbles; suspensions impact Bears in multiple ways was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears take a shot at grabbing a Packer, and miss is the next entry in this blog.

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