Projecting Bears’ Season After Schedule Release

The NFL officially released its schedule on Wednesday, and for Bears fans, there are a few oddities, for lack of a better word.

  1. The Bears will open their season against three straight AFC opponents (the Titans, Texans, and Colts) for the first time in 25 years.
  2. Chicago won’t play their first NFC North opponent until their 10th game of the season when they host the Packers on Nov. 17. It’s the longest in franchise history they’ve waited to see their first division opponent.
  3. The Bears will play their season finale against the Packers for the second straight year. Believe it or not, it’s the first time that’s ever happened despite the longtime rivals having faced each other every season since 1921.
  4. The Lions on will host Chicago on Thanksgiving for the fourth time in seven seasons. The Bears have won the last three matchups in 2018, 2019 and 2021.
  5. The Bears will play three division games in 12 days (against the Packers, Vikings, and Lions in Weeks 11-13) for the first time since 2018 when they beat Detroit on November 11, Minnesota a week later, and the Lions again on November 22. This year marks the first time the Bears will play three separate division opponents in a 12-day stretch since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970.

Of course, it’s a little too early to make predictions since the team isn’t close to finalizing its 53-man roster. That’s not going to stop us – there’s nothing wrong with letting our inner fan emerge once in a while – so let’s commence with something we can look back and laugh upon eight months from now.

The Bears finished 7-10 last season but expectations are much higher heading into 2024. Based on cumulative 2023 records, the Bears are tied for the third-easiest schedule in the NFL this year, facing opponents that compiled a .467 winning percentage (135-154) last season. The Bears will play seven games against 2023 playoff teams: two each versus the Packers and Vikings and one apiece against the Texans, Rams, and 49ers.

Week 1: vs. Tennessee Titans (6-11)

The Bears start Caleb Williams era with a home game against a weaker team. QB Will Levis leads the rebuilding Titans into Soldier Field to open the season.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: The Titans signed Calvin Ridley in the offseason and replaced Derrick Henry with Tony Pollard.
  • Pertinent Fact: Tennessee’s defense ranked 17th last season in total defense and 18th in pass defense, but the Titans added L’Jarius Sneed and Chidobie Awuzie to their defensive backfield. They also signed linebacker Kenneth Murray this offseason.
  • Wishful Thinking: Cam Newton was drafted number one overall by the Panthers in 2011. He introduced himself to the league with a bang in his debut, completing 24-for-37 passes against the Cardinals for 422 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. Newton was named Offensive Rookie of the Year while Arizona finished 16th in pass defense.
  • Prediction: Bears 30-Titans 9

Week 2: at Houston Texans (10-7)

Williams goes Prime Time in a battle against C.J. Stroud – last year’s top rookie – but this contest will be a defensive battle on a Sunday night. The Texans made some impressive acquisitions and are considered a dark-horse Super Bowl candidate.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: The Texans are the first team in NFL history to add a player coming off a season with 100 or more catches (traded for four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs), 1,000 or more rushing yards (traded for Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon) and 10 or more sacks (defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Denico Autry) in the same offseason, per CBS Sports Research.
  • Pertinent Fact: Will Anderson matched Stroud and was named Defensive Rookie of the Year.
  • Wishful Thinking: Williams has an opportunity to expose a weak defensive backfield if he can avoid getting sacked. The Texans will rely on C.J. Henderson or Jeff Okudah to play opposite Derek Stingley Jr.
  • Prediction: Texans 16-Bears 7

Week 3: at Indianapolis Colts (9-8)

The Colts aren’t as good as last year’s record indicates, and Williams, D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen, Rome Odunze, and Cole Kmet should combine for 350+ yards against a weak secondary. Chicago’s defense will shut down QB Anthony Richardson.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: The Colts retained stud WR Michael Pittman after assigning the 26-year-old pass catcher with the franchise tag. Indianapolis also signed veteran QB Joe Flacco to back up Richardson.
  • Pertinent Info: Flacco toasted the Bears to the tune of 374 passing yards while playing for the Browns last season. He completed 28-of-44 passes for two scores, but he also threw three picks and took four sacks in Cleveland’s 20-17 win.
  • Wishful Thinking: Williams has his second consecutive game with 300+ passing yards while Chicago’s defense pummels Richardson and/or Flacco.
  • Prediction: Bears 35-Colts 10

Week 4: vs. Los Angeles Rams (10-7)

Chicago’s defense will face its biggest challenge of the early season thanks to the likes of Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, and Kyren Williams.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: Los Angeles signed guard Jonah Jackson and has one of the strongest interior offensive lines in the NFC.
  • Pertinent Fact: The Rams’ offense was a top-five unit in the NFL last season when its top four weapons were healthy.
  • Wishful Thinking: Stafford has been injured 11 times in the past three seasons. However, the Rams have a very good backup in Jimmy Garoppolo. The team that has the final possession in this potentially high-scoring game will earn the win.
  • Prediction: Bears 31-Rams 28

Week 5: vs. Carolina Panthers (2-15)

Bryce Young will be better this year than last, but Carolina’s offense is no match for Montez Sweat, Tremaine Edmunds, Jaylon Johnson, and Jaquon Brisker.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: Carolina signed a pair of stout guards — Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis — to big free-agent contracts to flank center Austin Corbett. They traded for ex-Steelers receiver Diontae Johnson and drafted three playmakers in receiver Xavier Legette, running back Jonathon Brooks, and tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders.
  • Pertinent Fact: The Bears have won eight of their previous 11 tilts with the Panthers, including six of the last seven.
  • Wishful Thinking: Gervon Dexter has a breakout game as the Bears combine to sack Young 6+ times while Jack Sanborn returns two interceptions for scores.
  • Prediction: Bears 33-Panthers 6

Week 6: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)

The Bears will play their first overseas game since losing to the Raiders in 2019.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: The Jags had a productive offseason, but their best acquisition was DL Arik Armstead, who has 5 sacks, 4 TFLs, and 13 QB hits for the 49ers in 2023.
  • Pertinent Fact: The Bears will be designated as the home team in this game, which airs at 8:30 AM CT.
  • Wishful Thinking: The Jaguars are another team with a weak secondary, but QB Trevor Lawrence more than offsets that on the offensive side. At least the Bears get a bye week after dropping a tough one in London.
  • Prediction: Jaguars 25-Bears 19

Week 8: at Washington Commanders (4-13)

It’s homecoming week for Chicago’s rookie QB. The Commanders are no match for Sweat and the Bears, but the Williams-Jayden Daniels match will be the top storyline.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: Washington drafted its franchise quarterback in Daniels at No. 2 overall.
  • Pertinent Fact: The Bears don’t win many blowout games, but they blasted Washington 40-20 in a 2023 Week 5 road tilt. Moore had a monster game with 230 receiving yards and three scores and finished 19 yards shy of breaking the team record set by Alshon Jeffery in 2013.
  • Wishful Thinking: A well-rested Bears team is no match for the rebuilding Commanders.
  • Prediction: Bears 28-Commanders 6

Week 9: at Arizona Cardinals (4-13)

The Bears dominated the Cardinals last season and should improve to 7-2 before embarking on a brutal second-half stretch that could end any postseason aspirations.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: The Cardinals have Kyler Murray and didn’t need a quarterback, so they grabbed a generational wide receiver in Marvin Harrison Jr with their top pick.
  • Pertinent Fact: Bears fans enjoyed a very merry Christmas last season thanks to Chicago’s 27-16 Christmas Eve win over Arizona. Khalil Herbert rushed for 112 yards on 20 carries, and Justin Fields rushed for an additional 97 yards against one of the league’s weaker run defenses.
  • Wishful Thinking: Arizona didn’t do much to improve a defense that allowed nearly 27 PPG in 2023. The Cardinals ranked third-last in sacks last season with 33 and didn’t have a single player get close to cracking double digits.
  • Prediction: Bears 31-Cardinals 13

Week 10: vs. New England Patriots (4-13)

The NFL prides itself on parity and the Bears are no exception to the rule. This game has all the earmarks of a look-ahead contest with the Packers game on the horizon.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: New England cut ties with head coach Bill Belichick and beleaguered QB Mac Jones.
  • Pertinent Fact: The Bears are 4-10 all-time against the Patriots, though they did destroy New England 46-10 in Super Bowl XX.
  • Wishful Thinking: The Bears maintain focus and don’t look past the Pats.
  • Prediction: Patriots 14-Bears 6

Week 11: vs. Green Bay Packers (9-8)

Jordan Love still owns the Bears until Chicago can figure out a way to beat him. Say hello to Dontayvion Wicks and Josh Jacobs, the latest in a long line of offensive weapons to crap on the Bears. Chicago is still not as good as their biggest rival.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: The Packers finally had money to spend after relieving themselves of the dead money attached to Aaron Rodgers. Jacobs is the team’s marquee acquisition, but safety Xavier McKinney is a better overall player, and CB/punt returner Keisean Nixon is a sneaky good get.
  • Pertinent Fact: The Bears haven’t beaten the Packers since Matt LaFleur replaced Mike McCarthy.
  • Wishful Thinking: Williams turns out to be the first Bears quarterback to consistently beat Green Bay since Jim McMahon.
  • Prediction: Packers 31-Bears 21

Week 12: vs. Minnesota Vikings (7-10)

The Vikings are 19-15 since 2022 but weren’t as good as they should have been with Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and Dalvin Cook. A wasted opportunity to win with that trio resulted in Minnesota moving on from each player except Jefferson, who could be playing his final season with the Vikings.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: The Vikings traded up twice in the first round to get QB J.J. McCarthy and Edge Dallas Turner, the precise draft that anti-Williams Bears fans were hoping for.
  • Pertinent Fact: The Bears haven’t beaten the Packers since Matt LaFleur replaced Mike McCarthy,
  • Wishful Thinking: Minnesota’s anemic interior defense lets Williams, Moore, Allen, Kmet and D’Andre Swift have their best games of the season.
  • Prediction: Bears 45-Vikings 20

Week 13: at Detroit Lions (12-5)

The Lions are the class of the NFC North, but the Bears have played them tough over the past two seasons and match up well with their division rival. Still, a marquee game played on Thanksgiving morning should provide Detroit the impetus to win this tilt.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: Detroit improved its interior offensive line by adding Kevin Zeitler.
  • Pertinent Fact: The top rushing performance in Bears history against the Lions came on Sept. 18, 1977, when Walter Payton ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries in a 30-20 win at Soldier Field. That said, the Dave Williams Thanksgiving Day OT kickoff return will be the lead story that morning.
  • Wishful Thinking: Home teams are playing slightly over .500 in Thanksgiving games, so perhaps the Bears will catch the Lions in a tryptophan coma.
  • Prediction: Lions 31-Bears 17

Week 14: at San Francisco 49ers (12-5)

The 49ers are the class of the NFC after reaching last year’s Super Bowl, and though this should be a measuring-stick game for the Bears, they’re still a year away.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: The 49ers didn’t do much because they didn’t need to. They did sign old friend Leonard Floyd though, and Joshua Dobbs is the team’s new backup QB.
  • Pertinent Fact: The Bears and 49ers tend to play in extreme weather conditions, and though that often evens the playing field, a Week 14 match in San Francisco shouldn’t feature anything remarkable weather-wise. I suppose an earthquake might be a new twist as long as nobody in the Bay area is hurt or suffers extreme financial damage.
  • Wishful Thinking: Jake Brendel and Aaron Banks anchor a less-than-stellar offensive line, but Brock Purdy will be tough to stop nonetheless.
  • Prediction: 49ers 22-Bears 7


Week 15: at Minnesota Vikings (7-10)

The NFL decided Game 2 of the 2024 season series should be played on a Monday night, which could be a spectacular and boring mistake.

  • Prediction: Vikings 12-Bears 10

Week 16: vs. Detroit Lions (12-5)

The Bears will need a stellar defense effort at home to beat Detroit and stop a three-game losing streak. This game will mark the defining moment of the Matt Eberflus era in Chicago.

  • Prediction: Bears 14-Lions 10

Week 17: vs. Seattle Seahawks (9-8)

The Bears need a win to keep their Wild Card hopes alive in a tough NFC race, and Seattle provides what could be a necessary elixir.

  • Biggest Offseason Move: Seattle fired Pete Carroll in favor of Mike McDonald.
  • Pertinent Fact:  Shane Waldron will face his old team in this game, so look for a great effort from Williams. Odunze, Allen, Everett, and 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 snowy day that included a 20-yard TD pass to TE Jimmy 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.
  • Wishful Thinking: Chicago learned its lesson earlier and won’t look past Seattle. Sweat, Dexter, and Jack Sanborn go off, pitching a shutout and pushing the Bears into a win-or-go-home game against the Packers once again.
  • Prediction: Bears 30-Seahawks 0


Week 18: at Green Bay Packers (9-8)

The Bears arrive at Lambeau Fields at 9-7, but they’re just not good enough to stop a Packers team that is good enough to win the NFC North and make a long playoff run. The Bears will lose but will sneak into the final Wild Card spot thanks to an epic failure by the Cowboys or Eagles. Parity rules the day and gives Eberflus his first playoff appearance as Chicago’s head coach.

  • Prediction: Packers 28-Bears 27


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