Prior to this season, the last five times the Bears made the playoffs, they did so as a division champion—in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2018.
Their last postseason appearance as wild card entrant came in 1994—and there are a bunch of similarities between that team and the 2020 edition:
• Both the 1994 and 2020 teams qualified for the playoffs as the NFC's third and final wild card.
The 1994 Bears finished fourth in the NFC Central with a 9-7 record; at the time there were three divisions in both the NFC and AFC and the playoffs consisted of the division winners and three wild cards.
The 2020 Bears finished second in the NFC North with an 8-8 record, qualifying for the playoffs as the new No. 7 seed—an additional playoff spot that was added this season as part of the NFL's new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
• Both the 1994 and 2020 teams controlled their own playoff destiny heading into the final day of the regular season, but needed help from another team to qualify after losing their finale at home to an opponent that had already clinched a postseason berth.
The 1994 Bears lost to the New England Patriots 13-3 at Soldier Field in their regular-season finale but earned the NFC's final wild card berth when the New York Giants upset the Dallas Cowboys 15-10.
The 2020 Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers 35-16 at Soldier Field in their regular-season finale but earned the NFC's final wild card berth when the Los Angeles Rams upset the Arizona Cardinals 18-7.
• Both the 1994 and 2020 teams experienced mixed emotions on the final day of the regular season: the thrill of making the playoffs combined with the agony of a disappointing loss.
"It's a different scenario," Dave Wannstedt, coach of the 1994 Bears, said following his team's loss to the Patriots. "You're excited about being in the playoffs. Our guys worked so hard. They deserve it. By the same token, you're saying this after a loss. It's tough to be excited today. I think tomorrow when we wake up and assess the whole year, we'll know that we're still alive and we'll go from there."
"This is my first time where you lose a game but yet you find out that you're in [the playoffs]," Matt Nagy, coach of the 2020 Bears, said last Sunday after his team's loss to the Packers. "So the message to the team is this: 'It's OK to feel like crap right now. We put a lot of time and effort and energy into winning this football game and it sucks when you lose.' But that said, we feel it tonight, understand it, but no one is going to take away from what these players did to work back these last three weeks to put ourselves in a position to make the playoffs. We feel it tonight. We wake up tomorrow morning and that thing is in the rearview mirror."
• Both the 1994 and 2020 Bears scored on their first possession in their regular-season finales before their offenses fizzled.
The 1994 Bears took an early 3-0 lead on Kevin Butler's 44-yard field goal, but that was their only points of the game.
The 2020 Bears took an early 7-0 lead on David Montgomery's 2-yard touchdown run, but that was their only TD of the game.
• Just like the 1994 Bears, the 2020 Bears will open the playoffs as a road underdog in a dome against a division champion they lost to in overtime during the regular season.
The 1994 Bears headed to the Metrodome to face the NFC Central champion Vikings in the wild-card round after Minnesota had swept the season series by scores of 42-14 and 33-27 in overtime.
The 2020 Bears head to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to face the NFC South champion Saints in the wild-card round after losing to New Orleans 26-23 in overtime Nov. 1 at Soldier Field.
• Just like the 1994 Bears, the 2020 Bears will face a Hall of Fame-bound quarterback in their wild card game.
The 1994 Bears opened the postseason against Vikings star quarterback Warren Moon, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
The 2020 Bears will open the postseason against Saints star quarterback Drew Brees, who undoubtedly will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
• Just like the 1994 Bears, the 2020 Bears will look to snap a six-game losing streak to their playoff opponent.
The 1994 Bears headed to Minnesota for their wild card game having lost their previous six meetings with the Vikings.
The 2020 Bears head to New Orleans for their wild card game having lost their previous six meetings with the Saints.
• And here's where the 2020 Bears hope the similarities with the 1994 Bears will continue: The 1994 Bears beat the Vikings 35-18, registering their highest point total of the season.
Steve Walsh passed for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie running back Raymont Harris had a 29-yard TD run. And the Bears defense generated three takeaways and scored its first touchdown of the season on cornerback Kevin Miniefield's 48-yard fumble return.
After the game, Wannstedt said: "I think today's victory, as I told the players, really shows what a group of men who are committed with a very unselfish attitude can accomplish."
Here's hoping that Nagy has something similar to say Sunday night.