Bears Launch Schedule Prediction Challenge That Nobody Will Win

If you thought filling out your NCAA bracket was tough, wait until yet get a load of what the NFL and the Chicago Bears have in mind.

Chicago’s annual schedule prediction challenge is underway, and the odds of winning are astronomical. Here are the details from the team’s flagship website:

Fans who correctly guess the opponents the Bears will face and also guess the team’s bye week for all 18 weeks of the 2024 regular season will have a chance to win:

  • Two (2) tickets to each 2024 Bears regular-season home game* and away game*
  • Round-trip airfare for two (2) people to each 2024 Bears regular-season away game*
  • Hotel accommodations for two (2) people for one (1) night for each 2024 Bears regular-season away game*
  • $500 spending cash allowance per regular-season away game* ($4,000 total)

If no one correctly predicts the schedule, the top five (5) highest scores will receive a prize based on the scoring system.

  • 10 points for a correct division game pick. (must correctly pick the week, opponent, and location)
  • 7 points for a correct non-division game pick (must correctly pick the week and opponent)
  • 5 points for correctly picking the bye week
  • 3 points for a partially correct division game pick (must correctly pick the week and opponent)
  • 1 point for an incorrect game pick that is only a week away from the correct date, either one week before or one week after
  • The highest score will receive a home* and an away* game of their choice to attend along with travel accommodations. Other prizes include two United Airlines travel vouchers** and autographed Bears merchandise.

* Excludes international games
** See official rules for restrictions

Upon entry, users will receive an email confirmation with a link that will tally their score after the schedule is officially announced by the NFL. The schedule is expected to be released in early to mid May.


Fans can enter the Schedule Prediction Challenge brought to you by United Airlines at There is a maximum of five entries permitted per person.

How difficult is this challenge? There are exponentially more potential permutations to the league’s 272-game regular season than there are grains of sand in a human-sized hourglass. In fact, the NFL schedule is drastically more complex than those of the NBA and Major League Baseball, even though those leagues play far more games. But here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. The NFL has more than 10,000 scheduling constraints, including logistical considerations like stadium availability, broadcasting rules, and even special requests made by individual teams.
  2. One team’s schedule can be constructed roughly 60 trillion ways when merely considering the sequence of 17 opponents. .
  3. You do know each of the Bears’ opponents going into the challenge, though that’s little help. The Bears play their NFC North opponents twice, once at home and once on the road.
  4. Chicago will travel to play the Cardinals, 49ers, Texans, Colts, and Commanders. I believe the Bears and Commanders will play in Week 1, but that’s just a guess.
  5. They’ll also face the Rams, Seahawks, Jaguars, Titans, Panthers, and Patriots at home. One of those games will be played in London, however
  6. The NFL frowns on scheduling divisional opponents in back-to-back weeks.
  7. You have a 1-in-9 chance of predicting the correct bye week, so that’s not so bad.
  8. You have a 1-in-6 chance of guessing the final opponent since it will be a division rival, home or away, which is even better.
  9. The Bears will not open the season with three straight road games. The NFL will not allow that, though there is that London tilt.
  10. Chicago is also prevented from playing four consecutive road games at any time. That London game creates some added intrigue again, however.
  11. The Bears cannot play two consecutive road games against opponents coming off of a bye week, though I’m not sure if that helps or not.
  12. Games will be played on Sundays. Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays this year. Christmas is on a Wednesday this year and the league wants to connect to viewers on that holiday with two scheduled games. That will affect games before that week and after, if so.

Let’s take a look at how difficult it is to correctly predict an NCAA bracket. If you’re guessing blindly, you have a (1/2)^63 chance of picking 63 NCAA tournament games correctly—that’s roughly 1 in 9.2 quintillion. Mathematician Jeff Bergen, though, estimates the odds of constructing a perfect bracket as closer to 1 in 128 billion, since you have a much-better-than-50-50 chance of picking a bunch of specific games (such as the ones between No. 1 and No. 16 seeds).

When creating an NFL schedule, each time you pick an opponent, your odds narrow. That’s the good news. Ready for the bad news? My calculations tell me that the odds of correctly predicting Chicago’s entire schedule (location and date) even knowing its opponents, is about 1-in-12 trillion. That’s probably a little light, too. Especially if you factor in flex scheduling, potential natural disasters, and stadium conflicts, like concerts. The odds of winning the Powerball are 1 in 292.2 million.

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