ARIZONA CARDINALS

Bears’ win over Jaguars pushes Cardinals’ playoff odds to the brink

Dec 27, 2020, 2:05 PM | Updated: Dec 28, 2020, 7:53 am
Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) runs for an 8-yard gain as he is tackled by Jackso...

Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) runs for an 8-yard gain as he is tackled by Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Greg Mabin, left, and cornerback Tre Herndon, right, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

The Arizona Cardinals entered Sunday hoping for a present from the Jacksonville Jaguars to give their beleaguered playoff odds a boost by beating the Chicago Bears.

They ended up getting one later on from an NFC West rival.

With the Los Angeles Rams losing to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Arizona can make the postseason next week just by beating the Rams, regardless of what the Bears do.

The Cardinals’ easiest path to the postseason would have been for the Jaguars to pull off a win over Chicago on Sunday, which owns a tiebreaker for the seventh and final playoff spot. The Bears took care of business, shellacking the Jaguars, 41-17, and pushing Arizona’s playoff odds to the brink in the process.

The Cardinals and Bears share matching 8-7 records entering their final regular season contest of the year.

The Bears own the tiebreaker in this situation thanks to going 3-2 against the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants. Arizona’s best-case finish would be 2-3 against those teams if it beats Los Angeles in Week 17.

Chicago’s win over the Jaguars combined with Arizona’s 20-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday already meant the Cardinals had to beat the Rams next Sunday to reach the postseason. But had the Rams beaten the Seahawks, the Cardinals would have missed the postseason if the Bears win next week against the Packers — even if Arizona beat Los Angeles in the season finale.

Now, a Cardinals win would jump them ahead of the Rams, putting them in the sixth or seventh playoff seed, depending on how the Bears do.

Arizona fell to the Rams, 38-28, when the two met in Week 13 at State Farm Stadium on Dec. 6 and haven’t won in Los Angeles since 2017.

The Bears lost their first game against the Packers, 41-25, on Nov. 29, but have rattled off two straight wins over the Houston Texans and Jaguars to leapfrog Arizona for the final NFC playoff spot.

Arizona’s and Chicago’s playoff chances hinge upon the way they play against a pair of divisional foes on Sunday afternoon.

The Bears 24-point victory over a 1-14 Jaguars team on Sunday showed that the Cardinals’ quest to reach the postseason for the first time in a half-decade will be an uphill climb.

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