Have at It: Disparate postseason roads

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
8:00
AM ET
Based on your responses in this week's Have at It, you're giving the Chicago Bears a much better chance of making the playoffs than the Detroit Lions. Both teams are 7-4 at the moment, but the Lions' tough remaining schedule and their head-to-head disadvantage with the Atlanta Falcons will make for a tough road.

It's possible that a 10-6 record won't be enough for either the Bears or Lions to qualify. But, wrote timj90: "It's much easier to find 3 wins amongst Chicago's remaining schedule than Detroit." Added S1L3NT_snow: "Lions have two losses left on the schedule. @NO and @GB will both be losses. No room for error in the other three games. Especially considering Atl has the tiebreaker over them."

The Falcons' relatively easy schedule puts them in excellent position for one of the wild-card spots. Because of their Week 7 victory at Ford Field, the Lions would lose in a tiebreaker that involved the Falcons. So they would need to finish with a better record than the Falcons, or hope they would be in position to win a tiebreaker with another team they might tie for the second wild-card spot. If that's the case, the Lions could be held back by a conference record that already includes four losses.

At the same time, it's important not to get carried away by tiebreakers with five games remaining. The best thing to do at the moment is to project victory totals. If 10 victories might not be enough for the Lions, how could they get to 11 to avoid the tiebreakers? Wrote Jwoude23: "With games left @GB and @NO, that's just not likely to happen."

Meanwhile, the Bears have a clear path to the playoffs with games remaining against the 4-7 Kansas City Chiefs, the 5-7 Seattle Seahawks and 2-9 Minnesota Vikings. What could slow it? Wrote johnnypackman: "If [quarterback Caleb] Hanie can't hack it against a bunch of [bad] teams."

In the end, you wonder if the Green Bay Packers might play a role in determining the NFC postseason picture. They will host the Bears in Week 16 and the Lions in Week 17. If the Packers have the NFC's No. 1 overall seed locked up by then, they might be tempted to rest their starters. But would they do it knowing the Bears and Lions are in a playoff race? That will be a fascinating question.

My take? Like many of you, I think the Bears' path to the playoffs is clear and that the Lions have their work cut out for them. I do think the Lions will finish at least 9-7, however, which in all reality is probably the high-water mark many of you predicted for them before the season. Thanks for participating this week.

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