The leaks rolled out slowly earlier in the afternoon, but here is a complete and official look at the Bears’ schedule:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 21, 2017
Well, that’s one way of releasing your schedule. If you’re not keen on food-related hints, allow us to translate:
- Week 1: Sept. 10 vs. Atlanta Falcons (Noon, FOX)
- Week 2: Sept. 17 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Noon, FOX)
- Week 3: Sept. 24 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Noon, CBS)
- Week 4: Sept. 28 at Green Bay Packers (Thursday Night Football, 7:25, CBS/NFL Network/Amazon)
- Week 5: Oct. 9 vs. Minnesota Vikings (Monday Night Football, 7:30, ESPN)
- Week 6: Oct. 15 at Baltimore Ravens (Noon, FOX)
- Week 7: Oct. 22 vs. Carolina Panthers (Noon, FOX)
- Week 8: Oct. 29 at New Orleans Saints (Noon, FOX)
- Week 9: Bye (Enjoy the break responsibly, friends)
- Week 10: Nov. 12 vs. Green Bay Packers (Noon, FOX)
- Week 11: Nov. 19 vs. Detroit Lions (Noon, FOX)
- Week 12: Nov. 26 at Philadelphia Eagles (Noon, FOX)
- Week 13: Dec. 3 vs. San Francisco 49ers (Noon, CBS)
- Week 14: Dec. 10 at Cincinnati Bengals (Noon, FOX)
- Week 15: Dec. 16 at Detroit Lions (Saturday Night Football, 3:30, NFL Network)
- Week 16: Dec. 24 vs. Cleveland Browns (Noon, CBS)
- Week 17: Dec. 31 at Minnesota Vikings (Noon, FOX)
So, what can we take from a schedule when so much can happen between now and the season opener on Sept. 10?
For starters, the Bears will play seven teams that won at least nine games in 2016. This group includes the Falcons, Steelers, Packers, and Lions – all of whom were playoff teams last year. The Bears’ opponent strength of schedule is .479 (122-133-1) which is 19th in the NFL. And even though the collective records of the Bears’ opponents is sub-.500, there aren’t many (if any) cupcakes on the schedule.
In fact, the Bears are set to have one of the most challenging starts in football. According to the NFL Network, the Bears have the fifth hardest strength of schedule in the first eight weeks. Things will be at their toughest in the first six weeks, as their opponents (Falcons, Buccaneers, Steelers, Packers, Vikings, Ravens) owned a collective .594 winning percentage. This is a group that features two 11-win teams, a 10-win team, a 9-win team that just missed the playoffs and a pair of 8-8 teams who were on the fringes of the playoff hunt last season.
Bears defensive backs will have their work cut out for them during the season-opening four-week stretch with games against elite pass catchers and playmakers such as Julio Jones (Falcons, Week 1), Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson (Buccaneers, Week 2), Antonio Brown (Steelers, Week 3), and the ultra-deep Packers squad in Week 4 featuring Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and Martellus Bennett.
Mike Glennon will get a chance to win some fans early and often if he can go throw-for-throw with the elite caliber quarterbacks the Bears will face off against. Chicago will face quarterbacks who have either won a Super Bowl or competed in one in seven of the team’s first nine games. That group includes Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers (twice), Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, and Drew Brees. The quality quarterback play doesn’t stop there with Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton, and former No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz lurking after the bye week.
In total, the Bears will face 11 quarterbacks who threw for more than 3,500 yards in 2016, including five quarterbacks who finished in the top seven in passing yards. Good luck defending against that group.
The Bears wrap up the season playing three of their last four games on the road, with a Week 16 contest against the Cleveland Browns serving as the final regular season home game at Soldier Field.