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They Said It

They Said It: How playoff predictors view Bears' chances


The outlook for the Bears' playoff chances took a dramatic swing upward this weekend.

With the Arizona Cardinals losing to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday and the Bears beating the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, the Bears would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

Of course, the season will not end until next Sunday after the Bears have faced off against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field.

While this setup may trigger unfortunate memories of 2013 when a Week 17 loss to the Packers cost the Bears a playoff spot, the odds are looking better for the Bears than they have in weeks.

If the Bears beat the Packers, they will be in the playoffs no matter what.

If the Cardinals lose to the Los Angeles Rams, the Bears will be in the playoffs no matter what.

If both teams tie, the Bears will be in the playoffs no matter what, despite the fact that this scenario is so unlikely it barely merits mentioning.

Several publications have tracked playoff probabilities throughout the season. Here is what they are now saying about the Bears' postseason hopes:

ESPN's Football Power Index predicted before the season that the Bears would go 8-8 with a 41 percent of making the playoffs. As of Monday, the FPI gives the Bears about a three-in-four shot of making the playoffs, with a 13.6 percent chance of earning the sixth seed.

The national paper of record roughly agrees with ESPN's assessment. The landing page shows a graph of the percentage over the last five weeks, with the Bears at 38 percent coming out of their bye, bottoming out after losses to the Packers and Detroit Lions, then surging after the last two wins.

The website built around statistical predictions lands in a similar place as the previous two publications. However, FiveThirtyEight has been a little more confident in the Bears' chances than its competitors. Before this weekend, the website gave the Bears a 57 percent chance of making the playoffs, while ESPN put the odds at 33.

The website lives up to its name, bucking the trend and showing the most bullish prediction. The Bears' chances skyrocketed 41.5 points after the weekend's events. Football Outsiders also appears to be the most bullish on the Bears earning the sixth seed, at 16.4 percent. That climb would happen in the event of both a Bears and Cardinals victory, which would leave the Rams as the odd team out.

See the best 25 photos–as selected by Bears photographers–from Sunday's Week 16 win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

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