The NFL goes to great lengths to make the annual schedule release a must-see television event, but there were enough leaks throughout the day to sink several ships. I hadn’t even had my lunch when I knew the Bears weren’t playing the Chiefs in Germany, that their schedule is bookended by first and final-week games against the Packers, and that Justin Fields will appear on national television at least six times this season.
We’ve known Chicago’s opponents both home and away since the final game of last season. Only the dates have remained a mystery. The Bears have a last-place schedule and earned that by virtue of finishing with the worst record in the league. They play eight games at home and nine on the road and will not travel internationally in 2023. Their schedule is ranked 18th toughest in the league based on last year’s records.
The league kicks off the regular season with a Thursday night game that pits the Chiefs and Lions. Most teams, including the Bears, will begin the season on September 10. Despite the leaks, the team videos are always top-notch, and this year is no exception.
Schedule release? Yes, Chef. pic.twitter.com/y967k2402T
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 12, 2023
- September 10 vs. Packers – Green Bay travels to Chicago to face the Bears for the first time in about two decades without Aaron Rodgers. The Bears were 3-14 last season and lost twice to the Packers, who finished 8-9. Rodgers was 24-5 lifetime against Chicago in regular season play. Jordan Love has some big shoes to fill. The 3:25 PM tilt will be nationally televised, though I’ll be in attendance.
- September 17 at Tampa Bay – The Bears get the Buccaneers without all-world quarterback Tom Brady, who retired, presumably for good, at the end of last season. The Buccaneers also finished 8-9 last season but finished in first place in the NFC South, and then lost to the Cowboys in the Wild Card round. Baker Mayfield will lead the Buccaneers against Chicago this season.
- September 24 at Kansas City – It’s better for the NFL that this game will be played domestically in front of a national television audience. Fields vs. Patrick Mahomes is a marquee matchup, and Bears fans travel well. Game time is 3:25, and of course, the Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champs.
- October 1 vs. Broncos – Denver has Russell Wilson but they’re coming off a disastrous season that cost Nathaniel Hackett his job. The head coach was fired the day after Christmas and is the new offensive coordinator for the Jets. The Broncos finished 4-11 but traded their first-round pick to the Seahawks for Wilson.
- October 5 at Washington– The Bears play the Commanders in their first of two Thursday night tilts. The game will be televised by Amazon Prime. Chicago lost to Washington 12-7 last year in a Thursday night tilt. The league must have a lot of confidence that the rematch will be more enjoyable.
- October 15 vs. Vikings – The Vikings finished 13-4 last season with a -3 point differential. They beat the Bears twice last season, scoring 29 points in both contests. This will be a good test for Chicago’s improved defense. Expect breakout games by Fields, D.J. Moore, and rookies Roschon Johnson and Tyrique Stevenson.
- October 22 vs. Raiders – The teams have played 16 times since 1972 and the all-time series is tied at eight wins apiece. The Bears beat the Raiders 20-9 in 2021 and the team fired head coach Jon Gruden the next day.
- October 29 at Los Angeles – The Bears head west to play the Chargers in a Sunday night tilt. Khalil Mack will draw the bulk of the headlines that week. The matchup of Fields vs. Justin Herbert will be the Monday morning story, however. The trade deadline is typically the first Tuesday after Week 8, so this could be the last game for any of the 35 Bears playing in the final year of their contracts. Ryan Poles would probably like to extend each of Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet, Cairo Santos, and Jaylon Johnson. It will be interesting to see what the Bears get for Chase Claypool if he’s traded. Justin Jones, Trevis Gipson, and Andrew Billings could all be on the block, too. If Poles depletes his D-Line, the team will be in tank mode again.
- November 5 at New Orleans – Derek Carr is the new QB1 for the Saints, and his contract could serve as the model for a Fields’ extension. New Orleans finished 7-10 last season but wasn’t much worse than the Vikings. Better lucky than good, I suppose.
- November 9 vs. Panthers – The Bears get their first look at Bryce Young and it’s a marquee, Thursday night match to boot. Chicago owns Carolina’s first-round pick in next year’s draft. If Chicago wins, they improve their draft standing. A loss helps them too.
- November 19 at Detroit – It’s tough to call the Lions the class of the NFC North, but here we are. The Bears lost by a point to Detroit at home, and then were clobbered 41-10 on New Year’s Day. David Montgomery has switched sides, and Chicago’s defense will do everything it can to prevent the running back from going off.
- November 27 at Minnesota – The second tilt of the season against the Vikings will be a Monday night affair. It also marks their fifth national television appearance in 12 weeks. The Bears get their bye week after this game.
- December 10 vs. Lions – If the Bears have the chance to derail Detroit’s playoff hopes, this game could be flexed to primetime. My way-too-early prediction is that Johnson will best Montgomery in both games.
- December 17 at Cleveland – I had hoped to go to this game and make a simultaneous trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but Cleveland in December, the week before Christmas? Hard pass, at least for now. If the Bears are in the hunt for a playoff berth that may change my mind. The time has yet to be determined on this game.
- December 24 vs. Cardinals – Chicago’s final, scheduled national TV affair should be a good one if both teams have improved. Arizona lost its final seven games in 2022, and Chicago lost its last 10. Fields vs. Kyler Murray will be a fun riff, and we’ll know by then if Paris Johnson Jr. is a better tackle than Darnell Wright.
- December 31 vs. Falcons – What do you say we all attend this game at Soldier Field and then ring in the new year at Butch McGuire’s later that evening? Shall I send an e-vite?
- January 7 at Green Bay – If Love is outperforming Fields by Week 18 we’ll all be talking about the 2024 quarterback draft class. Do you prefer Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jordan Travis? I believe Fields is the long-term solution, however, and a darkhorse MVP candidate.