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Bears control playoff destiny after Cardinals loss


The Bears registered a victory of sorts Saturday without even playing a game.

The Cardinals' 20-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Arizona gave the Bears the chance to control their own destiny in the race for the third and final wild card berth (and the No. 7 seed) in the NFC playoffs.

Given that they've already clinched the tiebreaker with the Cardinals (8-7), the Bears (7-7) can secure the third wild card spot by 1) Winning their final two games in Jacksonville and at home versus the Packers; or 2) Splitting their final two games coupled with an Arizona road loss next Sunday to the Rams.

With the Cardinals losing Saturday, the Bears cannot be eliminated from the playoffs Sunday, even with a loss to the Jaguars.

With the Buccaneers' 47-7 rout of the Lions Saturday in Detroit, the Bears can no longer catch Tampa Bay (10-5) for the first wild card and No. 5 seed.

But the Bears can still land the second wild card and No. 6 seed, but only if they beat the Jaguars and Packers and the Rams lose to the Seahawks and Cardinals. In that scenario, the Bears, Cardinals and Rams would all finish 9-7. The first tiebreaker would be implemented between the Rams and Cardinals because they're in the same division, and Arizona would win that based on a better division record. And as previously stated, the Bears have already clinched the tiebreaker over the Cardinals.

The Vikings' 52-33 loss to the Saints Friday in New Orleans eliminated Minnesota (6-9) from the playoff race, ensuring that either the Bears or the Cardinals would be the third wild card and No. 7 seed.

The NFL added a seventh playoff team in both conferences this season as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The No. 7 seeds in the NFC and AFC will open the postseason by visiting the No. 2 seeds in the wild card round, with only the No. 1 seeds earning first-round byes.