NEW YORK – It might seem like a long time away, but in nine months, two extra teams are going to get to take part in the National Football League’s postseason.
On Tuesday, via a remote meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, owners voted to expand the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams for the 2020 season. To do this, a Wild Card team will be added to each conference this January.
This move was previously approved by the players in their vote on the new CBA.
So when might have this actually benefitted the Bears? Well since the team has struggled recently, it would have only helped out a few times.
This wouldn’t have helped the Bears this past season since their 8-8 record wouldn’t have been enough to squeeze into the playoffs. The Rams, whom they lost to in November, had a 9-7 record and would have won the tie-breaker even if the Bears had an extra win.
It wouldn’t have helped in 2013 either when the Bears lost the NFC North on the now infamous fourth down pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb in the final minute of the season finale at Soldier Field. The Bears’ 8-8 record was two full games behind the Cardinals, who finished seventh in the conference.
The previous two years were different, since the Bears would have gotten in as the seventh-seed. In 2012, the Bears’ win over the Lions in Week 17 would have gotten them in since their 10-6 record was a game better than the Giants.
In 2011, the Bears’ 17-13 win over the Vikings at the Metrodome would have been enough for them to get into the playoffs as the last seed. At 8-8 with three other teams, the Bear would have won a few tie-breakers to get in the playoffs.
The tie-breakers would have worked against the Bears in their hopes to get at seventh seed after they missed a chance to get a tenth win with a loss in Week 17 to the Texans.
The Bears finished tied for seventh at 9-7, but lost tie-breakers to both the Buccaneers (head-to-head) and the Cowboys (strength of victories).
In 1995, the Bears would have had the seventh seed when there were still three divisions and three other teams made the playoffs. In their final game of the year, the Bears beat the Eagles at Soldier Field, but a win by the Falcons also put them at 9-7, and they won the tie-breaker due to better record against common opponents.
Yet that record would have been good enough for the Bears to have gotten the seventh-seed.