Bears at Steelers,
Chiefs at Cowboys,
"He's an intimidator in a very positive way."
Chiefs Coach Dick Vermeil, on Cowboys Coach Bill Parcells
At the start of the season, who would have thought that among Chicago, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Dallas, the Bears would be in the postseason driver's seat? But that is indeed the case, as 9-3 Chicago takes a two-game division lead and an eight-game winning streak into its game today, while the Steelers, Chiefs and Cowboys all bring plenty of anxiety over their various playoff positions, which translates into an urgent need for a win.
Of the three, the Steelers (7-5) are in the worst current position but probably have the easiest road to the playoffs. They must leapfrog two teams to get there, but after facing Chicago, they play at the Vikings (7-5), at the Browns (4-8) and against the Lions (4-8).
The Chiefs (8-4) sit just ahead of the Steelers but just behind the Chargers (8-4), against whom they have a huge contest in two weeks. That will be sandwiched between a trip to the Giants (8-4) and a visit from the Bengals (9-3).
The Cowboys (7-5) currently hold the final NFC playoff berth but after today must visit the Redskins (6-6) and the Panthers (9-3) before finishing against the Rams (5-7). And all the while, Dallas not only has Washington and Minnesota but the Falcons (7-5) breathing down its neck.
Can somebody say, "Must-win situation?"