It's a wacky world out there in the NFC wild-card race and the Bears' victory over New Orleans Thursday night didn't do a lot to clear anything up. It certainly enhanced the Bears chances though.
Here is a breakdown of it with a little help, make that a lot of help from the Bears' PR information man Mike Corbo:
1. Tampa Bay (9-4, 8-3 in NFC): at Atlanta (8-5), vs. San Diego (5-8) vs. Oakland (3-10)
2. Dallas (8-5, 6-4 in NFC): vs. NY Giants (11-2), vs. Baltimore (9-4), at Philadelphia (7-5-1)
3. Atlanta (8-5, 5-4 in NFC): vs. Tampa Bay (9-4), at Minnesota (8-5), vs. St. Louis (2-11)
4. Philadelphia (7-5-1, 6-4 in NFC): vs. Cleveland (4-9), at Washington (7-6), vs. Dallas (8-5)
5. Bears (8-6, 6-5 in NFC): vs. Green Bay (5-8), at Houston (6-7)
6. Washington (7-6, 6-4 in NFC): at Cincinnati (1-11-1), vs. Philadelphia (7-5-1), vs. San Francisco (5-8)
7. New Orleans (7-7, 4-6 in NFC): at Detroit (0-13), vs. Carolina (10-3)
2. Best winning percentage in conference games
3. Best winning percentage in common games (minimum four)
4. Strength of victory
Tampa Bay can finish ahead of the Bears with one more victory or a Bears loss.
Dallas entered the week with a one-game edge over the Bears and the Cowboys currently are ahead in conference record and record among common opponents. The Bears can pass them with a better overall record or win a tiebreaker if the Cowboys lose to the Giants and Eagles and the Bears defeat Green Bay.
Atlanta entered the week a game up on the Bears and own a tiebreaker by virtue of their head-to-head victory. It could be that the Bears will wind up rooting for Minnesota to beat the Falcons next weekend.
Philadelphia entered the week with a half-game edge over the Bears. Because there cannot be a tie, the Bears need to finish with a better record.
Washington entered the week ahead of the Bears by virtue of its conference record. A win by the Redskins Sunday at Cincinnati puts them back into the fifth position ahead of the Bears.
The Bears need to beat out five of six teams, including Washington, to win a wild-card berth. if they win out over Green Bay and Houston, they would then need four of these five things to happen:
1. Washington to lose one of its remaining games.
2. Philadelphia to lose one of its remaining three games.
3. Atlanta to lose two of its remaining games,
4. Dallas to lose two of its remaining games.
5. Tampa Bay to lose all three of its remaining games.
Yes, that's a lot of information to crunch right now. It's proof 10-6 is now slam dunk for the Bears to reach the playoffs as a result of their NFC South losses earlier in the season. Cleveland became the fifth team since 1990 to miss the postseason with a 10-6 record last year. At this point, the Bears are best off rooting for Arizona on Sunday to defeat the Vikings and keeping their eyes set on the NFC North title.