Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and the NFL for WARR
One of the early big dates of the NFL year-round schedule is the full release of the upcoming season’s slate of games, where football enthusiasts can look at the road map to come league-wide while also breaking down their favorite team’s next campaign.
Some may take such preview breakdowns more seriously than they need to be knows how good any team will be, this writer is not one of those people. It’s still way too early to gauge just how good any team will be, that makes measuring them up against their schedule hard if not impossible.
Yes, we know certain teams are more primed for success than others based on their recent results, but with injuries and the natural parody of the NFL, no team is guaranteed success. Therefore, schedule release day is not about trying to make grand proclamations for the season but there are definitely things to keep an eye on.
Plus, it is always fun to kick start the anticipation of zoning out in front of the television with our current national past-time on most Sundays and Monday and Thursday nights to come, unavailable to the world (outside of Twitter).
Here are some takeaways of mine after eyeing the Chicago Bears’ 2018 schedule.
NFC North Is Tough — There are some tough games potentially on the Bears schedule if teams like the Bills, Rams and Patriots repeat their success from last season, but the majority of the tough games look to be coming from the division.
Minnesota, already an conference championship contender, seems improved as does Detroit and Green Bay is getting Aaron Rodgers back. The Bears need to get three wins against the division if they are going to have any chance to play in January.
Road Games A Potential Break — The Bears have not been able to win many games in the last few years and they are especially bad on the road. The home games outside of the division are Seattle, Tampa Bay, New England, the Jets and the L.A. Rams. Compare that to the road slate of Arizona, Miami, Buffalo, the Giants and San Francisco.
Out of the road games, San Francisco looks the toughest right now and maybe Buffalo depending on their quarterback, but facing the Rams and Patriots at home helps the Bears.
Opener: Highly Anticipated or Highly Dreaded — Hopefully the Bears take a real step forward as a football team in this off-season because it would stink to have a potential Green Bay victory rain on the latest grand unveiling.
Last year when the Bears faced Aaron Rodgers it was an ugly affair, but Mike Glennon was the quarterback and the team as a whole was completely uninspired. As long as this coming season opener isn’t a blowout then it should be a good night for Bears fans.
Being able to see the brand new coach with the brand new offense to go along with the progress the defense made last year on Sunday Night Football will be fun, regardless of a win or close enough loss.
This will be a chance to see the improvement of Trubisky and see how the young quarterback responds to the challenge of playing on Rodgers’ home field where he doesn’t lose much.
How Good Was Your Off-season? — It’s almost draft time (ed. note – check our series of draft previews on the home page), the smart teams have collected enough picks or filled enough holes through free agency that now the final heavy lifting of the off-season is coming to an end.
After the draft it’s all about training camp and preparing for the season with mostly minor moves here and there. The Bears went through a ton of changes and will be able to see how they compare to teams all over the draft board. Chicago will play four teams drafting in the top ten (NYG, NYJ, TB and SF), six teams drafting in the 11-20 range (MIA, BUF, GB, ARZ, SEA and DET). Two teams in the 21-32 range (NE and MIN) and one team, the Rams, who doesn’t have a first round pick because of trade with the Patriots.
The Bears will play teams at a variety of stages from rebuilding to Super Bowl contenders, it’ll be interesting, must-watch TV to see how the collaboration of general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy compares to who they’ll next see on the gridiron.
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