The Most Daunting Schedule(s), Desai's Challenges, Peyton's Internship, and Other Bears Bullets

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The Most Daunting Schedule(s), Desai’s Challenges, Peyton’s Internship, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

My favorite random schedule quirk is that the Bears and Vikings are playing on December 20th for the second consecutive year. Sure, it’s a different day of the week. And a different week on the NFL calendar. But it’s still a trip.

The moment I figured out that was my favorite schedule quirk was when I realized I needed a nap. Or some ice cream. I ended up getting both.

•   Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Chicago Bears have one of the toughest schedules in football. Based on a strength of schedule metric rooted in last year’s winning percentage, the Bears have the NFL’s third-toughest schedule.  This is old hat for us. In 2018, they took on the eighth-hardest schedule. That team won 12 games and made the postseason. A year later, it was the most difficult schedule in the entire league. The 2019 team fell short of expectations and missed the playoffs, but didn’t bottom out entirely as it finished with an 8-8 record. Last year’s team had the 13th hardest strength of schedule, but still made the playoffs.

•   One reason I don’t put too much stock into strength of schedule preseason rankings: There was a weird quirk about last year’s schedule in which Mitchell Trubisky faced — by far — the easiest defensive matchups among all quarterbacks. In other words, what does strength of schedule based on last year’s results mean? Anything? Hello? Bueller?

•  Here’s a different way to look at the schedules:

•   Never before in the Bears’ 101-year history has the franchise had a schedule in which it alternated road-home for the entirety of the calendar. So, they might as well make the most of it. One way to do so would be to follow in the footsteps of the 2012 Falcons, 2013 Packers, and 2019 Ravens:

•   Chicago’s football team needs great fortune to win the NFC North this year. But that winning the division despite this odd scheduling isn’t unprecedented provides a sliver of hope. And frankly, that’s all I need. As noted scoundrel/space war hero/smuggler Han Solo would say: “Never tell me the odds.”

•   For what it’s worth, the North Divisions (yes, plural) will be dog fights. At least, based on strength of schedule. From the top of the “hardest” list, it goes: Steelers, Ravens, BEARS, Packers, Vikings, Bengals, Lions. The seven hardest schedules belong to AFC and NFC North teams. To round out the challenging schedules, the Browns have the ninth-most-difficult schedule based on last year’s winning percentages. Eight teams from the same divisions in the top-10 seems absurd.

•   You know who really has the toughest schedule? Bears Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai. Chicago’s defense lost two starting corners, as well as depth along the defensive line this offseason. I think the depth will be fine, but losing a high quality starting cornerback such as Kyle Fuller still stings. And when you look at the quarterbacks on the Bears’ schedule, you’ll understand how much it hurts:

⇒   Super Bowl champions: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson

⇒   Recent No. 1 overall picks: Joe Burrow (2020), Kyler Murray (2019), Baker Mayfield (2018), Jared Goff (2016)

⇒   Pro Bowlers: Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford

⇒   MVPs: Rodgers, Brady, Lamar Jackson

•   If Sean Desai doesn’t lose sleep thinking about the quarterbacks his defense must stop, then more power to him. Meanwhile, I’ll invest in more melatonin gummies to get me through the nights from September through January.

•   When it comes to Week 1, the quarterbacks starting in the Sunday Night Football game between the Bears and Rams should be concerned with who is coming around the edge:

•   It’s a daunting schedule to be sure, but does it get any tougher than Weeks 6-9? Rodgers, Brady, Garoppolo, and Roethlisberger have one thing in common — they have all started at least one Super Bowl. Three of those guys have won it. Swap out Garoppolo for Trey Lance? Cool. Then we’re talking about three Super Bowl winners and the third overall pick in this draft class. It’s … a lot to take in right now.

•   I’m not (always) a big believer in conspiracy theories that professional sports leagues playing favorites with certain teams, but doesn’t it always feel like the Cowboys and Patriots get “favorable” schedules? Nick Shook (Around The NFL) explores which teams were given the most favorable draws in 2021.

•   For your listening pleasure:

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•   Hope springs eternal:

•   Some love for Riverboat Ron:

•   Uh, what?

•   The best NFL schedule releases:

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.