Already thinking playoffs after watching the Bears the last four weeks? Don’t fret, you’re not losing your mind. After the team’s remarkable 3-1 start to open the 2018 season, ESPN now projects the Bears to have a 78.5 percent chance of reaching the postseason – the third-highest probability in the league.
Only two teams in the NFL have higher odds of making the playoffs: The NFC-leading Rams (97.5 percent) and AFC-leading Chiefs (85.3 percent). Among teams that have lost games this season, nobody projects to have a better chance to play into January than the Bears.
That probably shouldn’t be too surprising given how close the Bears are to a 4-0 record. They led by double-digits in Week 1 against the Packers and likely would’ve won had Kyle Fuller not dropped a potential interception late in the fourth quarter. Even with that collapse in the season opener, the Bears still look like one of the best teams in the league. They affirmed that last Sunday with a 48-10 smackdown of the Buccaneers, who had a 2-1 record entering the game.
Led by the addition of Khalil Mack, the Bears have the third-highest DVOA, or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, in the league. In more simple terms, that means only two defenses in the league have recorded better underlying statistics this season.
Combined with the progression we’ve seen from the offense and head coach Matt Nagy, it adds up to a team that’s increasingly likely to make the playoffs.
Elsewhere in the NFC North, the Packers retain strong odds at 60.9 percent despite their 2-1-1 start to the season. The Vikings, however, have seen their odds plummet to 24 percent, while the Lions are more or less out of it with a 7.6 percent chance of making it.
At least the Lions have a better shot than the 0-4 Cardinals, whose odds are down to 0.7 percent just one quarter into the season.