In a Dec. 23, 2012 photo, Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith watches his team during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri/file)
In a Dec. 23, 2012 photo, Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith watches his team during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri/file)

I’ll start us off with the bad news this week and just rip the Band-Aid off: We only have 13 games of football left this season.

The good news of course is that every game left is a playoff game and the best teams in the world will compete to be the last one standing.

Before we get into the playoffs, I want to discuss Week 18. It was the best week of the season for Bears fans so far, which isn’t saying much for supporters of a 3-14 team. Despite the pain this team has caused fans like myself over the course of my lifetime, things finally all clicked into place on Sunday.

Let’s start at a little after 4 p.m. local time. The Bears have already lost their season finale to the Vikings, extending a franchise record 10-game losing streak. Now, depending on what kind of fan you are, you might have been rooting for Chicago to drop that one. I was. A loss guaranteed the Bears at least a top-two selection in the upcoming NFL draft, while a win could drop the team to fourth depending on how the afternoon slate played out. With how miserable watching my Bears has been this season, anything less than a top-two pick in the draft would have been a failure.

Meanwhile, at the same time in Indianapolis, some magic was happening. The Houston Texans, the worst team in football for the first 17 weeks of the season, were taking it to the Colts early. Indianapolis came back, but with less than a minute left, Texans quarterback Davis Mills unleashed all of the magic he had left and threw for a touchdown and game-winning two-point conversion. Houston’s head coach and Chicago Bears legend Lovie Smith had done it. By winning his final game as a head coach, Lovie had given the Bears the first pick in the draft.

I threw my hands in the air. I did a victory lap around our newsroom. The Bears were the best at being the worst. If you’re still reading this you might be wondering, what’s the difference between one and two? Is the No. 1 player in the draft enough to turn the Bears around?

The answer to the second question is no. But the No. 1 pick shouldn’t be made by the Bears.

They need to trade that pick and get a haul.

There isn’t a can’t miss super-stud QB prospect in this draft like Trevor Lawrence, but the top two or three players selected could all be quarterbacks. Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis are all very interesting prospects that could make a team very happy for a long time.

But I don’t think the Bears need a quarterback. Justin Fields is the QB of the future. There are quite a few other teams that need a guy to throw the ball though, and Chicago needs to take advantage. Trading down with this pick historically has given teams tons of picks in return. In 2016, the Rams gave Tennessee two firsts, two seconds and two thirds to trade up and take Jared Goff. Six picks for one! This is a no-brainer for the Bears and I hope they don’t screw it up like they usually do. (They will)

That wasn’t the only highlight of Sunday. Fast forward to the night game, where the recently eliminated Detroit Lions showed fight and pettiness against the Green Bay Packers. Lions coach Dan Campbell summed it up perfectly in a mid-game interview, stating “If we’re not going [to the playoffs], they’re not going.”

Campbell backed it up.

The Lions defeated the Packers, knocking the cheese brains out of the playoffs and hopefully putting an end to the boogeyman that is Aaron Rodgers. I had already convinced myself that if Green Bay had gotten into the dance the team would definitely go on a run. I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I can watch the playoffs in peace and come up with a million different trade scenarios for the Bears. So thank you, Dan Campbell, Jared Goff, Jamaal Williams, Aiden Hutchinson, Amon-Ra St. Brown and the rest of the Detroit Lions! I wish you guys could be in the playoffs, you might mess around and win the NFC.

They are not in the playoffs though, despite probably being better than one or two teams that are. We shift focus now to the 14 teams that remain. Without wasting any time, my Super Bowl prediction is San Francisco-Buffalo. I could see Cincinnati and Kansas City getting there, as well as Philadelphia in the NFC, but I think the Niners are the most well-rounded team in the league while the Bills are a team of destiny.

Wild Card Weekend has been known for its crummy games in recent years with the seventh seed in each conference being added to the bracket. I’m not expecting this year to be much different, especially with some of the quarterback injuries being dealt with. Regardless of how the games turn out, they all have spreads for me to try and conquer beforehand.

Let’s do this.

SATURDAY

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)


It wasn’t easy for Seattle, but the Seahawks clinched their spot in the playoffs on the last day of the season. It’s a tremendous accomplishment as many expected Pete Carroll’s bunch to be one of the worst teams in the league after trading away Russell Wilson preseason. While Seattle should be happy to be here, they are running into a juggernaut in San Fran. I have a hard time believing that this one stays close for too long. Give me Christian McCaffrey, Brock Purdy and the Niners.

The Pick: 49ers -9.5

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

I didn’t see this coming but this is easily my most anticipated matchup of the weekend. Justin Herbert vs. Trevor Lawrence? Two of the best young quarterbacks in the world? Sign me up! Both teams are peaking at the right time, using late season surges to make the playoffs after looking dead in the water at the season’s midway point. I think home field advantage plays a big part and while I don’t think Jacksonville crushes the Chargers as they did early in the season, I do think the Jags pull it off.

The Pick: Jaguars +2.5

SUNDAY

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-13.5)

Tua Tagovailoa is OUT for Miami, which is probably a good thing as he has been dealing with far too many head injuries already this season. But the result of that is this game might be one of the worst of the weekend. I’d be shocked if the Bills didn’t come out on fire and roll. Not much else to say about this one.

The Pick: Bills -13.5

New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (-3)

I really don’t know what to expect from the Vikings in the postseason. Minnesota has won a lot of close games while also getting blown out a fair amount. The Giants played the Vikings awfully close around a month ago, so I wonder if they can do it again. I like this Giants team, and they’re playing some really good ball right now. I have little to no faith in the Vikings after seeing them lay an egg in too many big spots.

The Pick: Giants +3

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-8.5)


The NFL took a big risk scheduling this as the primetime Sunday night game for the first round, considering Lamar Jackson might not play for Baltimore. If he did, I’m sure this spread would not be as lopsided as it is currently. Either way, I still think the Bengals get the win. Cincy plays and carries itself with a swagger that is hard to replicate. These spreads are far too lopsided for playoff games! Why did we need to add the seventh seed! Sorry, force of habit.

The Pick: Bengals -8.5

MONDAY

Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Everybody and their mother is picking the Buccaneers to win this game after Dallas has skidded to finish the regular season. I might just say whatever and become one of them. How do you go against Tom Brady in the playoffs, against a Cowboys team he’s 7-0 against in his career? I’ve been doing so well, fading the Bucs and reaping the successes. It’s a shame I’m going to relapse this late in the season. Dak Prescott has just played too poor for Dallas.

The Pick: Buccaneers +2.5

If I’m right here, we will have some pretty exciting matchups in the divisional round next weekend. I’ll see you all then. In the meantime, enjoy the chaos and have a great weekend!