The Chicago Bears clinch the NFC North

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Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy celebrates with his team after an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Chicago. The Bears won 24-17. (AP Photo/David Banks)

Marcel Carrasco

After eight long, dreadful and heartbreaking years, the Chicago Bears are the NFC North 2018 Divisional Champions and have booked their ticket to the playoffs.

Chicago’s division-clinching victory Sunday marked the 11th time the Bears have won their division since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. This division championship marks the first since 2010 for Chicago.  

The Bears are third in all-time NFC North divisional championships behind the Green Bay Packers with 15, and the Minnesota Vikings with 20. The Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are tied for fourth with three championships each.

Since the merger, the NFC North has seen its shift of dominance throughout the decades. The Minnesota Vikings owned the 1970s. “The Monsters of the Midway” claimed the 1980s, and since 1995 the Green Bay Packers have won 12 titles, the most of any NFC North team during that time.

The turn of the century has been rough for Chicago. Since the 2000 season, the Bears have made only five playoff appearances, including this year. Super Bowl XVL was Chicago’s second super bowl appearance in team history, and the Bears have made only two playoff appearances since then.

With two games left in the regular season, the Bears currently hold a 10-4 record sitting pretty with a possibility of earning a first round bye.

Related: The Bears are heading in the right direction

 With only the New Orleans Saints at 12-2 and Los Angeles Rams at 11-3 ahead of the Bears for a first round bye, Chicago can still claw its way to the top.

The Rams will travel to Phoenix to face the Arizona Cardinals before closing out their regular season against the San Francisco 49ers. If the Rams lose only one game while the Bears win their final two matches, both teams will be tied at 12-4, putting the Bears ahead in head-to-head record as the tie breaker.

The Saints will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in week 15 and close out their stellar season against division rival Carolina Panthers.

Chicago will travel to Levi Stadium where they will face San Francisco for the week 15 matchup. The 49ers are on a two-game win streak coming against the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

The Bears week 16 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings will prove to be another test. The Vikings are fighting for a Wild Card playoff spot themselves and will face the Detroit Lions in week 15.

With the Saints, Rams and Bears already in the postseason, the NFC will see a total of six teams fighting for the last four positions, making the end of an already amazing 2018 NFL season even better.

To put the cherry on top of Chicago’s first winning season since 2012, the Bears eliminated the Packers from postseason action on Sunday’s victory. Much like the Packers did to the Bears in 2013, when a week 16 loss to Aaron Rodgers and company ended Chicago’s playoffs hopes.