| USA TODAY
NFC Week 17 overreactions: Someone finally wins NFC East, no one looks close to Packers
SportsPulse: The NFC East has a champion and it’s the Washington Football Team. Mackenzie Salmon reacts to the biggest storylines from Week 17 in the NFC.
The Green Bay Packers snapped Chicago’s three-game winning streak on Sunday with a 35-16 victory in Soldier Field, but the Bears won’t have long to lament their loss. For that, they can thank the Arizona Cardinals, whose 18-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams seals the Bears’ slot as the conference’s seventh seed.
Chicago’s playoff berth seemed unlikely one month ago. The Bears (8-8) lost six in a row culminating in a Dec. 6 loss to Detroit. Their offense coughed up 11 balls in that stretch, their defense notching just three takeaways. A late-season push and weak NFC East helped them qualify for the postseason at .500.
The Bears positioned themselves well with five wins in the first six weeks of the season, including 20-19 over the Buccaneers, who earned the top wild-card spot in the conference. But quarterback struggles – pick your midseason poison of Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky – and a stalling offensive stalling made for a long November.
In the final quarter of the season, Trubisky’s improved ball security and a game plan capitalizing on running back David Montgomery’s talents have given Chicago’s offense the firepower to complete games. The Bears, who declined Trubisky’s fifth-year option in May, now have a decision to make on the expiring contract of the 2017 second overall pick. In his second postseason appearance, he’ll have another chance to make his case.