Week 2: at Packers (Thursday, September 13, 8:20 PM ET; NFL Network)
Week 3: vs. Rams (Sunday, September 23, 1:00 PM ET; Fox)
Week 4: at Cowboys (Monday, October 1, 8:30 PM ET'; ESPN)
Week 5: at Jaguars (Sunday, October 7, 4:05 PM ET; Fox)
Week 6: BYE WEEK
Week 7: vs. Lions (Monday, October 22, 8:30 PM ET; ESPN)
Week 8: vs. Panthers (Sunday, October 28, 1:00 PM ET; Fox)
Week 9: at Titans (Sunday, November 4, 1:00 PM ET; Fox)
Week 10: vs Texans (Sunday, November 11, 8:20 PM ET; NBC)
Week 11: at 49ers (Monday, November 19, 8:30 PM ET; ESPN)
Week 12: vs Vikings (Sunday, November 25, 1:00 PM ET; Fox)
Week 13: vs Seahawks (Sunday, December 2, 1:00 PM ET: Fox)
Week 14: at Vikings (Sunday, December 9, 1:00 PM ET; Fox)
Week 15: vs Packers (Sunday, December 16, 1:00 PM ET; Fox)
Week 16: at Cardinals (Sunday, December 23, 4:15 PM ET; Fox)
Week 17: at Lions (Sunday, December 30, 1:00 PM ET; Fox)
Now, after seeing the schedule, let's break down some notable things about it:
Five primetime games. Three of them are on Monday night (at Cowboys, vs Lions, at 49ers), one of them is on Sunday night (vs Texans), and one of them is on Thursday night (at Packers).
Playing a Thursday night game in Green Bay in the second week of the year is not a game I'm happy about, as that's a game you'd like to get a whole week of rest, practice, and film study for. It's also just asking so much of your team to play on a short week after the first week of the season.
I do like that the Lions and Texans games, which as we stand now are two of the three most difficult home games, are primetime games. It's very difficult to go into Chicago and win a primetime game, especially for a warm-weather Texans team in November. Additionally, the Bears will have a full week to rest and gameplan for the Lions, as it's following the bye week.
The schedule is very balanced. There's really no stretch (again, as we stand now, and of course at least a few teams will do better than we think) that should scare Bears fans on paper. Both Packers games are in between games that the Bears will be favored in (three of which heavy favorites).
Probably the two most difficult stretches would be week 7-11, and week 15-17. And when it comes to the week 15-17 games, so much can be different then for each team than it appears on paper now (injuries, teams disappointing, playoff positioning already secured up, etc).
Open against Andrew Luck (we assume) and the Colts. The NFL's worst team in 2011 will be at least a bit improved with Luck at quarterback, but a veteran defense should give a rookie quarterback hell in his first game, especially at home. The Bears will be 10+ point favorites in this game and losing it to start the season would be pretty inexcusable. Of course, Luck is a pretty special talent (and mind), so maybe he'll just be great from the start... but it's unlikely, especially with a subpar supporting cast.
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