LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Under one possible scenario, the Chicago Bears (8-6) would be in a position to clinch the NFC North title with a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles (8-6) on Sunday night if both the Green Bay Packers (7-6-1) and Detroit Lions (7-7) lose their respective games earlier that same day.
But the possibility does exist that Sunday’s game means nothing for the Bears in terms of the divisional race if the Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Lions drop their home game to the New York Giants.
In that event, no matter what transpires at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 16, the NFC North will be decided next week at Soldier Field when the Bears and Packers square off in the regular-season finale.
Will Bears head coach Marc Trestman prepare differently if he learns at kickoff the game versus the Eagles is essentially meaningless in terms of the playoff picture?
“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” Trestman said. “I haven’t spent any time thinking about it. What I’m focused on, certainly right now, is getting our team to be at their play and be ready to play three hours of really great football. My answer to the question is I can’t answer the question.”
The Bears encountered this dilemma a couple times under former head coach Lovie Smith, who opted to rest almost all of his starters after the Bears had wrapped up the division title in 2005 and 2006. However, in 2010, Smith went against the trend and went all out in the regular-season finale in an attempt to keep the Packers out of the postseason. Unfortunately for Smith, Green Bay won that night at Lambeau Field and eventually knocked off the Bears three weeks later in the NFC Championship Game en route winning Super Bowl XLV .