NFL Schedule Release Sneak Peak: What’s in Store for the Bears?

With the NFL Draft officially in the books, there’s just one big event left on the NFL’s offseason calendar – its schedule release. The only problem with this year’s event is that no one knows when the schedule will drop. Colts owner Jim Irsay wants fans to start preparing.

The schedule usually comes out the second Thursday in May, but because that occurs in two days, it’s more likely we’ll see the NFL make an announcement next week. May 15 or 16 probably makes the most sense.

Let’s look at what is known about this year’s schedule and how it affects the Bears:

  1. The Bears officially kick off the 2024 NFL season with this Year’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. They’ll play the Texans on August 1 at 7 PM CT in what should mark the rookie debuts of QB Caleb Williams and WR Rome Odunze. Former Bears players Steve McMichael, Devin Hester, and Julius Peppers are among this year’s inductees.
  2. The Chiefs will host the season opener on Thursday, September 5. They’ll host one of the Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Saints, or Buccaneers.
  3. The Packers start their season with a Friday night tilt in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Eagles will be the “home” team and that game is scheduled for September 6.
  4. The Bears will have nine home games this season, but one will be played in London. They could host the Jaguars at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Chicago lost to the Raiders in 2019. The Jaguars would be playing back-to-back games in London for the second consecutive year if that’s the case.
  5. Chicago could have as many as six nationally televised regular season games this year. Credit Williams and a resurgent Bears defense for that. The London game automatically qualifies, but the Bears also have several marquee matchups this season. They play the Packers and Lions twice and also have games against three additional opponents who made last year’s playoffs.
  6. This year’s Christmas doubleheader will be played on a Wednesday. The NFL has scheduled Wednesday games just twice previously.
  7. The Bears are projected to have the third-easiest strength of schedule with a 2023 opponent win percentage of .467.
  8. Chicago’s lack of elite defensive opponents — only San Francisco and Carolina ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense last season — should help the Bears in their quest to make the playoffs for the first time since losing 21-9 to the Saints in the 2020 playoffs.
  9. The Bears started the 2023 season with one win in five games. That will not be acceptable this season regardless of their opponents.
  10. The Bears were 5-4 last season against opponents they will play again this season. They were 2-4 against their NFC North opponents, with additional wins against the Cardinals, Panthers, and Commanders.

Home Opponents

  • Packers (9-8): The Bears opened the 2023 season with a 38-20 home loss to Green Bay, but the game was never close. Chicago entered the game with high expectations but had no answer for Jordan Love and Green Bay’s rushing attack. Justin Fields passed for 216 yards and one score, but was also sacked four times and threw one interception.
  • Lions (12-5): The addition of Montez Sweat greatly improved Chicago’s defense, and it showed in a 28-13 Week 14 win over the Lions. It also marked the first time the Bears won consecutive regular season games in the Matt Eberflus era.
  • Vikings (7-10): Fields injured his thumb in a 19-13 home loss to the Vikings in Week 6. QB Tyson Bagent displayed flashes of competence in his NFL debut, subbing for Fields after the injury. The rookie completed 10-of-14 passing attempts for 83 yards and one INT. He also took one sack for a loss of 10 yards.
  • Jaguars (9-8): The Bears haven’t played the Jaguars since 2020, winning 41-17 in Week 16 action that kept Chicago’s Wild Card hopes alive. Mitchell Trubisky threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns, both to TE Jimmy Graham.
  • Panthers (2-15): An ugly 16-13 Week 10 win over Carolina all but sealed Chicago’s position at the top of this year’s draft. Bagent threw for 162 yards without any scores but didn’t hurt the team with any costly turnovers. Former Bear Ihmir Smith-Marsette returned a Trenton Gill punt 79 yards for a touchdown in the game. Gill is also a former Bear now that Chicago drafted Tory Taylor.
  • Rams (10-7): Fields made his NFL debut the last time these two teams played, a 34-14 win by the Rams in Week 1 of the 2021 season. Fields played decently despite getting just a handful of snaps, occasionally subbing for Andy Dalton.
  • Patriots (4-13): Fields had a few good games during his tenure with the Bears, but a 33-14 win in Week 7 of the 2022 season is among his best. The second-year QB passed for 179 yards and a touchdown while picking up 82 yards on the ground with another TD.
  • Seahawks (9-8): Shane Waldron will face his old team in this game, so look for a great effort from Williams. Odunze, Keenan Allen, Gerald Everett, and Cole Kmet. Veteran QB Nick Foles was the hero the last time these two teams played, a 25-24 Bears win in Week 16 of the 2021 season. Foles threw for 260 yards on a snow day that included a 20-yard TD pass to Graham. Everett played for the Seahawks that year, catching a 20-yard TD pass of his own from Russell Wilson. The Bears won this game thanks to a dramatic two-point conversion late in the 4th quarter.
  • Titans (6-11): The Bears haven’t played the Titans since 2020 when some guy named Jon Strong wrote for this website. The defense dominated in a 24-17 Week 9 loss to Tennessee, but the offensive line couldn’t protect Foles, while Chicago’s could muster just 56 rushing yards on 24 carries.

Road Opponents

  • Packers (9-8): Green Bay beat the Bears 17-9 in the regular season finale to clinch a playoff berth. Love threw for 316 yards and connected with Dontayvion Wicks on a pair of touchdowns. The Packers ended the season with a 10-game winning streak against Chicago.
  • Lions (12-5): Chicago’s defense completely collapsed in a very winnable game. The Bears lost 31-26 despite leading 26-14 with five minutes to go. Chicago also blew a chance to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly two years against one of the NFL’s better teams.
  • Vikings (7-10): The Bears jettisoned into their bye week with a 12-10 win at Minnesota. The two squads combined for six turnovers and just a single touchdown but Chicago was able to win thanks to four field goals by Cairo Santos. The Bears defense completely dominated Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs, but Minnesota will have J.J. McCarthy at the reins this season.
  • Cardinals (4-13): Bears fans enjoyed a very merry Christmas thanks to Chicago’s 27-16 Christmas Eve win over Arizona. Khalil Herbert rushed for 112 yards on 20 carries, and Fields rushed for an additional 97 yards against one of the league’s weaker run defenses. The Bears will see No. 4 pick Marvin Harrison Jr. in this year’s contest.
  • Texans (10-7): All eyes will be on Williams and C.J. Stroud but I believe defense will decide this game. The Bears beat Houston 23-20 in a 2022 Week 3 game the last time these two teams faced each other. Roquan Smith was Chicago’s hero in that contest.
  • Colts (9-8): The Texans scored an improbable last-second touchdown in the final week of the 2022 season to beat the Colts and give the Bears the top pick in the 2023 draft. The Colts, therefore, practically handed Williams, D.J. Moore, Tyrique Stevenson, and a 2025 second-round pick to the Bears, all for Carolina’s right to draft Bryce Young. The Colts ended up with QB Anthony Richardson and DE Laiatu Latu, while the Texans got Stroud and DE Will Anderson Jr., making the Panthers the league’s biggest losers.
  • 49ers (12-5): Fields fans will always have that stunning 19-10 Week 1 win over the 49ers in 2022.
  • Commanders (4-13): The Bears don’t win many blowout games, but they blasted Washington 40-20 in a Week 5 road tilt. Moore had a monster game with 230 receiving yards and three scores. Moore finished 19 yards shy of breaking the team record set by Alshon Jeffery in 2013.
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