I was asked the following on Quora so here is my answer.
ATA OQ: Will the Chicago Bears be able to make it into the playoffs next season? This answer is for the 2023 season.
The Chicago Bears have two ways to make the playoffs: Win the Division, or via WildCard.
Winning the Division:
Currently, in the NFC North, the Lions are trending up, the Vikings are trending down and the Packers are in disarray. Whether Aaron Rogers stays or leaves, they are not the juggernauts they have been for the last decade.
Therefore it is possible that the Bears could win the division but they have to win at least one game against the Lions and sweep the Vikings and Packers, along with winning more games than the other teams in their division. Because the Bears often do not control their destiny and lose tiebreaker scenarios.
In theory, this should be easier. Last year's Bears lost a majority of games by one score or less. It was only a combination of bad luck, bad execution on final drives, turnovers, and not playing to win (to get a higher draft pick) that led to their fate. They are making some good moves in Free Agency and we will have to see how they do in the draft, but I'm gonna say they are only gonna get better than last year's team.
We know who they are playing but we don't have the schedule set yet. A lot of winning in the NFL depends on when you play a team as much as how you play them. Catch a team before they find their identity and it looks like an easy win. Catch them during a winning streak and they blow you out. Or if they haven't won in 5 or more games, you are the trap game.
We have to see what moves all the teams make during and after the draft but based on what we know, here is what the Bears would have to do based on last year.
HOME (6 - 2, worse case 5 -3)
Lions - gotta win.
Packers - gotta win.
Vikings - gotta win.
Falcons - they almost beat them last year and the Falcons are with a QB committee. Should be a win, especially at home.
Panthers - they are rebuilding. if this game is early in the year, the Bears win.
Broncos - We all laughed at Russell Wilson last year but now that he has had a year and a new coach, I think Bears are upset at home.
Raiders - The Raiders had a lot of pieces last year but bad luck. I think with Jimmy G at the wheel, the Bears lose this one.
Cardinals - This team starts hot and then fades so if Bears get them later in the season at home, in the cold, count this as a win.
AWAY (4 - 5, best case 6 - 3)
Lions - Last year the Lions were in most games until the end. I expect very few losses at home. Bears lose a close one.
Packers - gotta win and it's possible the Bears win in Lambeau for the first time since 2015.
Vikings - Last year was a fluke. This year Bears sweep.
Chiefs - This is expected to be played in Germany. If the Bears arrive early and the Chiefs fly in late, Bears take this one.
Chargers - Chargers seem to get hot later in the season so it depends. I'll count this as a Bears loss.
Saints - I'm gonna say Bears take this in an upset only because they have lost to New Orleans over the last half-decade, including the playoffs.
Buccaneers - Baker Mayfield has something to prove and the Bucs' defense is still stout. Bucs win.
Commanders - Bears should have beat them last year. I think they take this one.
Browns - It seems if the Bears play the browns early in the season they lose, if it is later, they win.
So conservatively they go 9 and 8 (I cannot calculate potential tiebreakers at this point) that might get them the last wildcard. It comes down to the Browns and Cardinal games. Anything better than 9–8 likely gets them in.
If my optimism is correct, they are 12 and 5 and easily secure a wild card berth well before the season is over, and might even be able to rest players if the math shows they cannot improve their position.
Note: I do not believe they can make enough changes in 2023 to go to the Super Bowl or deep in the playoffs. Most likely they are one-and-done in the playoffs. Best case they move on to the divisional round.
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