How the Bears' schedule stacks up against the rest of the NFC North originally appeared on nbcsportschicago.com
We've known who the Bears will play in the 2019 regular season since New Year's Eve 2018, and have known where they'll play those opponents for even longer. That always makes the NFL's schedule reveal sort of an odd phenomenon, especially because most of it gets leaked long before primetime shows air on NFL Network and ESPN.
Additionally: Do we really know how good anyone is going to be in 2019, the Bears included?
So yes, the Bears have the most difficult schedule of any team in the NFC North by virtue of playing fellow 2018 division winners New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. But a side-by-side comparison to the rest of the NFC North reveals the Bears' schedule has both its drawbacks and advantages compared to the rest of the division:
The Bears, undoubtedly, have the toughest pairing of NFC opponents here. But the Vikings having to go to Seattle - where they lost a year ago - isn't easy against the 12th man, and the Falcons still have a powerful offense and could rebound to contention with an improved defense.
As for the Packers, San Francisco should be much improved with Jimmy Garoppolo returning from a season-ending injury along with adding Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander, Tevin Coleman and whoever they pick second overall in next week. A healthy Cam Newton could do wonders for the Panthers, too.
The Lions have two of the likely worst teams in the NFL, though questions remain if the Lions are any good anyways.
The verdict: The Bears have the toughest pairing, but the Vikings and Packers don't necessarily have easy ones, either.
Bears: @ Broncos, @ Raiders (London), @ Washington, @ Eagles, Chiefs, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys
Vikings: @ Kansas City, @ Chargers, @ Cowboys, @ Giants, Broncos, Raiders, Washington, Eagles
Packers: @ Kansas City, @ Chargers, @ Cowboys, @ Giants, Broncos, Raiders, Washington, Eagles
Lions: @Broncos, @ Raiders, @ Washington, @ Eagles, Chiefs, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys
The Bears and Lions, theoretically, got the easier draw in the AFC West with the Chiefs and Chargers - two of the AFC's best teams in 2018 - at home, with the Broncos and Raiders at home. But this is worth noting given the timing of the Broncos' game in Week 2:
Worth noting, too: The Chargers, who for one more year will play in a soccer stadium that's usually full of opposing teams' fans, had a 6-2 record on a road in 2018.
But missing the Chiefs on the road is a good thing for the Bears - outside of fans losing out on a trip to Joe's Kansas City. The game being in Week 16 could be fascinating, especially if both the teacher (Andy Reid) and protege (Matt Nagy) have something for which to play. Of course, there are eight months separating now and that game, so plenty could happen.
Drawing Washington and New York on the road would've been the most ideal, but that didn't happen with any team in the division, so right now it looks like a wash between how the NFC East opponents line up.
The verdict: The Bears probably have the most favorable-looking schedule of any team here given they get the Raiders in, effectively, a neutral-site game (that likely will be heavily attended by Bears fans at Tottenham's stadium). Whether or not Denver's uncanny success at home early in the season continues in the Vic Fangio regime remains to be seen.
Opponents following an off week: Saints (Bears), at Seahawks (Vikings), at 49ers (Packers), at Packers (Lions)
Opponents following a Thursday night game: At Broncos, at Packers (Bears), at Chiefs (Vikings), Vikings, at Cowboys (Packers), at Vikings (Lions).
The verdict: This isn't a huge deal - the Bears had the quickest turnaround in NFL history from their Sunday night game against the Vikings to their Thanksgiving afternoon game against the Lions and wound up fine last year.