Friday, September 11, 2009

17 weeks, 16 games, 1 preview

The Bears have the easiest schedule of any team in the NFL--their opponents combined for a measly .413 winning percentage last year. But before you get too excited thinking the Bears have a free pass to the playoffs, you should know that the Vikings get to feast on the second easiest schedule (.423 winning percentage), and the Packers will enjoy the fourth easiest (.431).

Here are a few things to watch for as the schedule unfolds:

False start? When the gun goes off, the Bears will be at Lambeau against a new 3-4 defensive scheme and a quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) who threw for over 4,000 yards last year and led the league in preseason touchdowns (meaningless, I know, but still). And while the Bears are 4-1 in their last five at Lambeau, it's still a heckuva test to begin the season.

Then the Super Bowl Champion Steelers come-a-callin'. The Soldier Field crowd will be charged up, #6 will be wearing the home uni for the first time, and ... the Bears will probably lose. Hey, you never know, but the point is, 0-2 is a distinct possibility. Winning either of their first two games will be a successful start to the season.

To make matters worse, the Packers play the Bengals in Week 2 while the Vikings have the Browns and Lions to start off the season. I hope this is much ado about nothing, but you've been warned: the Bears could be two games behind both the Packers and Vikings two games into the season.

Six pack of football lite. But don't panic if the Bears are in fact in Lions territory after two games. Six of the next seven games on the schedule are very winnable. If you ignore Atlanta for a moment (Week 6), the six opponents the Bears will face in Weeks 3 - 10 had just 28 combined victories in 2008, an average of less than five apiece. The seven-game stretch includes Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland and San Francisco.

Familiar foes. The schedule changes every year, but this will be the third consecutive season the Bears have faced the Eagles. With games against the Falcons (who miraculously beat the Bears last year despite getting the ball back trailing with just 11 seconds left) and the Cardinals as well, the Bears will have the opportunity to help themselves against teams who figure to be in the NFC Wild Card hunt.

Prime time. No, the Bears haven't signed Deion Sanders. But their schedule features five prime time games: three Sunday night games, a Monday nighter, and a Thursday night game against the 49ers on NFL Network. They'll certainly have their chances to show their stuff on the national stage.

December doozies. The Packers come to Chicago on December 13 and the Vikings come to town two weeks later for a Monday night affair. The dust probably won't be settling in the NFC North until after Santa has left the North Pole.

Tomorrow, I'll take a closer look at the team and what we should expect from the 2009 Bears.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe this will be the year da Bears do better on national tv. We can hope.