1986 NFL SIMULATION: ENCORE PERFORMANCE

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The 1985 Chicago Bears remain amongst the greatest single-season teams in NFL history. The rap about the team is that although they remained contenders, they did not follow up with multiple championships or even multiple Super Bowl appearances like Washington, the 49ers, Cowboys or even Broncos.

Like Nena and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the Super Bowl Shuffle became a one-hit wonder. Or maybe more like Corey Hart, ‘Sunglasses at Night’ and ‘Never Surrender’ if you really remember. Mike Ditka’s team did not go mega-platinum like David Bowie or Prince.

Much of the blame goes to the lack of longevity of quarterback Jim McMahon, who at his brief peak still outclasses any Bears quarterback since 1950.

McMahon always played with a bullseye on his back. McMahon must go down to the Soldier Field turf and go down hard, even if it happens three seconds after he throws the ball which is exactly what Green Bay’s Charles Martin did.

The 1986 NFL simulations serves as a referendum of the Bears staying power if No. 9 had stayed in one piece.

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  • Nothing much separates the Giants, Bears, Niners or even Vikings (actual record 9-7 and out of playoffs). The real-life point differentials were Bears +165, Giants +135, Niners +127 and Vikings +125, all better than any AFC team.
  • The Saints easily earned the second NFC Wild Card slot with a 12-4 campaign, easily surpassing their actual 7-9 record (point differential) -1
  • There would be no Broncos/Browns AFC Championship game. Cleveland missed the playoffs at 9-7 while Denver finished 7-9. Meanwhile the Bills somehow earned the AFC’s top seed despite a 4-12 real life record.
  • Other teams that bombed in the sim included Washington (actual record 12-4) and Patriots (11-5)
  • The wooden spoon went to the Lions (actual record 5-11) who became the sim’s sixth team to go winless at 0-16. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers two wins came at the expense of Detroit while Green Bay’s 7-9 record was buoyed by four wins over the Bucs and Lions.

As a number five seed the Vikings won playoff games in New Orleans and San Francisco, replicating an actual playoff upset that occurred after the 1987 season. The Bears would be awarded home field advantage and defeated the Giants and Vikings to book a Super Bowl return trip.

Buffalo lost at home in the divisional round while Seattle defeated the Bengals and then the Raiders 38-27 behind four touchdown passes by Milton College graduate David Krieg. It would be Seattle’s second AFC Championship in three years

Seattle and Chicago met in Pasadena for Super Bowl XXI, the Bears led 24-0 after three quarters and held off a furious Seattle rally to prevail 24-19. Mike Tice scored the initial Seahawks touchdown followed by two Curt Warner runs.

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