SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy won’t have to agonize over whether to rest starters in Week 17.
The likeliest scenario is that the Bears (11-4) enter the postseason as the NFC’s No. 3 seed, but Chicago has a chance to move up to the second seed if it knocks off Minnesota in the regular-season finale and the Rams (12-3) lose to the 49ers.
Both the Bears and Rams play at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.
“If we were in a position where you can’t move at all seed-wise and you were just locked in, then I think that’s something [resting starters] that you have to discuss,” Nagy said. “But we’re not in that position. So we have to play to win, and I kind of like that. I don’t mind that at all, and I think that our guys kind of like it. It just kind of keeps you going if you were fortunate enough to make it to the playoffs. It keeps you going in that rhythm.”
The Bears are entering uncharted territory for most of their players.
Back-to-back wins over the Rams and Packers not only helped the Bears in the standings but also provided them the opportunity to play against a playoff-like backdrop.
The win over San Francisco was significant in its own right. Say what you want about the 49ers’ record (4-11), but they play hard for coach Kyle Shanahan.
The physical and competitive nature of Sunday’s 14-9 slugfest at Levi’s Stadium was not lost on the Bears.
“We’re gaining that experience, and we’re playing together at the same time,” Trevathan said. “Especially in games like against the 49ers. They had their backs against the wall, and they came out swinging. They had won two in a row, and for us, it was a game for us to take a step back, take a look at ourselves, take a deep breath and know that we have confidence in who we are.”
The finale against Minnesota will have another playoff atmosphere.
The Vikings would love to avenge their 25-20 primetime loss to the Bears in Week 11, but more importantly, Minnesota needs to win — or have the Eagles lose — to secure a wild-card berth.
“You understand that when you’re in the position that we’re in right now, anything can happen to these other teams,” Nagy said. “So you can’t just say, ‘This team’s going to win’ or ‘This team’s going to lose.’ Anything can happen. So what you can control is winning your game as much as possible. If you don’t do that, and then the other team has a chance to lose, and they lose, and you didn’t go about it the right way, now you just let that slip.
“So we need to go about this thing next week just like we have every other game. If you don’t do that, it changes how you approach your week mentally, how you approach it pregame. So that’s not what we’re going to do.”