The Chicago Bears won three of the four games they played against teams that finished the 2018 season with winning records, including two of the three against teams that participated in the postseason. Hopefully, that prepared them for some tougher times ahead … because they’re certainly on their way.
John Breech of CBS Sports analyzes the strength of schedule for each of the league’s 32 teams and the slate of games the Bears will face this coming year will be among the most difficult. The Bears’ schedule is tied for the fifth toughest in the NFL and is the most difficult among NFC teams.
Opponents Combined 2018 WP%
- Oakland Raiders: .539
- Denver Broncos: .537
- Jacksonville Jaguars: .531
- Houston Texans: .527
- Chicago Bears/Kansas City Chiefs: .520
Chicago’s opponents combined for a 131-124-4 record and a .520 winning percentage. Only the Raiders (.539), Broncos (.537), Jaguars (.531), and Texans (.527) have a tougher road ahead than the Bears (and the Chiefs, whose opponents combined winning percentage matched that of Bears opponents next season). We already knew the Bears’ schedule would appear to be a bit more daunting this year than it was last season, but that’s life in the NFL. It’s a topsy turvy league.
If it’s any consolation, at least the Vikings (10th) and Packers (t-14th) have strength of schedules that are in the top half of the league, too. It doesn’t appear as if there are too many easy outs in the NFC this year. On the other end of the spectrum, you can find 2019’s Super Bowl participants with seemingly easy paths back to the postseason. The opponents on the schedule for both the Rams and Patriots posted identical 120-134-2 records and .473 winning percentages. Only Washington’s scheduled opponents (.469) had less success in 2018.
Then again, how much does this really matter?
The Bears’ upcoming schedule for 2019 has its own challenges, to be sure. There are eight games against teams that finished with a winning percentage above .500, which includes six who made the playoffs last year. But of the six games Chicago will play against fellow postseason participants, four will be home games, and a fifth could be a neutral-site type of game depending on how well Bears fans (and Chicago transplants out west) travel for a game against the Rams.
When Breech did this exercise last year, the Bears had the eighth-hardest schedule in 2018. That group of games included the Super Bowl runner-up Patriots, four games against three teams that made the playoffs the year before (Bills, Rams, Vikings twice), and four games (Cardinals, Seahawks, Lions twice) against teams who finished with a winning percentage of .500 or better. And for what it’s worth, the Bears went 8-1 in those games. Not bad, if you ask me. Bring on all challengers in 2019!