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NFL playoff picture: Bears in position for first round bye

6-1 Chicago is a game behind Atlanta for home field in the NFC

John Gress

The Chicago Bears squeaked by the Carolina Panthers last Sunday on a last-minute field goal from Robbie Gould. The one-point win preserved the Bears' second-place position in the NFC playoff picture halfway through the 2012 NFL season.

If the season ended this week, Chicago would benefit from a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Bears lead the NFC East-leading New York Giants and the West-leading San Francisco 49ers by one game each. Both the Giants and Niners are 6-2 and would earn the third and fourth seeds, respectively.

In the NFL playoffs, the highest remaining seed from the Wild Card round visits the second-seeded team in the conference. That means, if the Minnesota Vikings (currently seeded sixth) were to beat New York, the winner of the 4-5 game will visit Chicago. That would be either the 49ers or the 5-3 Green Bay Packers, currently the fifth seed.

The Bears still play the Vikings twice, and host Green Bay – the Packers gave Chicago its one loss at Lambeau Field in Week 2. Chicago visits the 3-5 Tennessee Titans this Sunday.