Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
How has the No. 3 seed fared in the playoffs over the past several years?
Since the NFL implemented the current playoff format when the league expanded to eight four-team divisions in 2002, No. 3 seeds are 17-15 against No. 6 seeds in the wildcard round of the playoffs. The 17 No. 3 seeds that won their playoff opener are 6-11 against the No. 2 seed in the divisional round. Only two of the six No. 3 seeds who won their first two playoff games also won their conference championship games—and both have Bears connections. The Panthers coached by John Fox lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots in 2003, while the only No. 3 seed since 2002 to win the Super Bowl was the Colts team that beat the Bears in 2006. In the NFC, No. 3 seeds are 8-8 versus No. 6 seeds in the wildcard round and 1-7 against No. 2 seeds in the divisional playoffs. Since 2002, the NFC's only No. 3 seed to win its first two playoff games and reach the NFC title game was the aforementioned Panthers in 2003. This year is the first time the Bears have been the No. 3 seed in the playoffs since the 1990 season when they beat the Saints at home before losing to the Giants on the road.
In terms of improving from 5-11 last year to 12-4 this year, has this been the biggest turnaround in Bears history from one season to the next?
Rolling Meadows, Illinois
The seven-win increase from last season to this season ranks second in Bears history to an eight-win improvement from 2000 when the Bears went 5-11 to 2001 when they compiled a 13-3 record and won the NFC Central Division under Dick Jauron. If you go by winning percentage, this year's increase of .437 is third behind 2000-01 (.500) and the 1945-46 Bears, who also improved by .500 from 3-7 in 1945 (.300) to 8-2-1 in 1946 (.800), when the Monsters of the Midway won their fourth NFL title in seven seasons.
The Bears seemed to be in every game this year, even their losses. When was the last time they went an entire season without losing by more than seven points?
The last time the Bears did not lose a game by more than seven points in a season was in 1963 when they won the NFL championship. This year's losses came by seven points to the Patriots, three points to the Dolphins and Giants both in overtime and one point to the Packers. The Bears were the only NFC team and just one of three in the NFL that didn't lose a game by more than seven points this year. The Chiefs dropped four games by margins of 3, 3, 1 and 7 points, while the Texans lost five contests by 7, 3, 5, 3 and 2 points.