Through the first half of the 2012 season, it looked like the Chicago Bears might land the No.2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye.
Heading into Week 17, they are fighting for their playoff lives.
The Bears have lost five of its last seven games, and sit in third place in the NFC North. At 9-6, they share the same record as the wild-card leading Minnesota Vikings, but lose the tiebreaker because of their weaker division record.
The Bears don’t control their own destiny, but could be considered the favorites to end up with the No.6 seed in the conference.
In order to play beyond Sunday, the Bears need to win their game and have the Vikings lose. Chicago has played poorly of late, and Minnesota is in the midst of a three-game winning streak, but the odds are in the Bears' favor.
The Vikings have one of the toughest games of any NFL team. They are scheduled to host the Green Bay Packers, who might be playing as well anybody. The Packers have just one loss since Week Five, and are a 3.5-point favorite on the road.
Not only will Minnesota face a tough opponent, but their best player will be hampered with an injury. Adrian Peterson is expected to play, but he is suffering from an abdominal strain. Minnesota couldn’t beat Green Bay in their first meeting, when the MVP candidate was at full strength. It will be even harder for them to win if Peterson is not as effective.
Even though the Bears aren't playing their best football, they have a good chance of winning their final regular season game. They visit the Detroit Lions, who haven’t won a game since Nov.4. At 4-11, the Lions don’t have much incentive to win their last game. The Bears are favored by three points.
The New York Giants are also in play for the final wild card spot, but they’d need to win their game, as well as get losses from the Bears, Vikings and Dallas Cowboys. The Washington Redskins would claim the No.6 seed if they lose to the Cowboys, but the Bears and Vikings also need to lose.