NFL playoff picture: Bears in trouble if they don't win out

Matthew Stockman

The Bears will have to fight for a playoff spot as the 2012 regular season nears its end.

The Chicago Bears' 21-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday dropped them to 8-5 on the season and made their playoff chances even murkier. As it stands now, Chicago holds the No. 6 seed in the NFC over three 7-6 teams, but could be in trouble if they don't win out.

Those 7-6 teams are the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, with the St. Louis Rams a half-game behind them at 6-6-1. The biggest threat to Chicago are the Redskins, who currently hold a tiebreaker thanks to conference record and who have a relatively easy remaining schedule that contains the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas, meanwhile, is a half-game behind the Bears in terms of conference record and also still has to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and Redskins, making its inclusion more unlikely. The Vikings are even further behing the eight-ball -- they're also a half-game behind in conference record with games against the Rams, Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers still left.

The Bears now find themselves in the odd position of benefiting from the injury to Robert Griffin III, who strained his right knee in the team's comeback win over the Baltimore Ravens. If the Redskins win out, it would doom the Bears unless they won out as well, but that's much less likely if Griffin is on the sidelines.

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