The 2014 Chicago Bears schedules is full of intricacies, much like any teams. Whether it's the number of road games to start the season, the high number of primetime match ups or the weird back-to-back Thursday games, the schedule provides a number of facets to be broken down.
However, one aspect that caught my eye was that in the entirety of their schedule the Bears will play only two games inside: Week 6 at Atlanta inside the Georgia Dome, and Week 13 at Detroit in the Thanksgiving showdown.
Is that a big deal? That's tough to say but it is worth noting. On one hand, the Bears will play on the road in places where the weather will be a factor but the other team will be just as prepared to play in it as Chicago. On the other hand, some of the the opponents that visit Soldier Field will be outdoors, which could give the Bears an advantage.
For example, a dome team in New Orleans will be coming to Soldier Field late in the year with their high powered offense that's built to take advantage of the noise and fast-playing turf of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. That could be a great equalizer for the Bears, who have been smacked around by the Saints the last two times they played, once in New Orleans and early last October when the Saints came to Chicago on a 60-degree dry day and beat the Beloved 26-18.
Warm weather teams like the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will also stop by the lakefront, the Dolphins in mid-October and the Bucs in late November; it will hardly be the snowy season but it will certainly be different than when the Bears played in Jacksonville in 2012, when it was 88 degrees in early October and the Bears got off to a sluggish start.
The Dallas Cowboys will also be making a December visit to Chicago and who could forget last year's game, a 45-28 smackdown on Monday night in 8-degree weather?
So maybe the Bears get a slight edge in just one of these four games. After all, I'm a believer that there is no such thing as Bears Weather but I do know that some teams just don't handle the cold very well.
On the other side of the stadium coin is the indoor teams. Last year the Bears went 0-3 playing indoors, losing to the Lions (40-32), the Rams (42-21) and the Vikings (23-20 in OT). Aside from being indoors the Bears also surrendered over 250 yards rushing in each of those three games.
While the defense should be improved, will it be improved enough to slow down the advantage that the Falcons and Lions will get on their fast home tracks? It should help that the Falcons had a fairly anemic rushing attack last season but there's a good chance they boost it in the draft next month.
And about that new-look defense, will playing outdoors more matter for pass rushing? There was some concern about Jared Allen's ability to rush the passer on natural grass but that was quickly put to rest when his career sack breakdown is shown (66.5 on turf vs. 62 on grass). The Bears will play 11 games on grass while the rest will be on turf at NE, at NYJ, at ATL, at DET and at MIN, who will be playing on the artificial turf of TCF Bank Stadium. The Packers, for what it's worth, play on a hybrid field but pro-football-reference.com lists it as grass so I put it on grass as well.
The three indoor games last season were also the only three the team played on artificial turf.
Furthermore, the Falcons are tough at home going 16-8 over the last three years and for Matt Ryan's career they are 36-10 inside the Georgia Dome. The Lions are about the same on the road and at Ford Field; 11-13 at home and 10-14 on the road but the Bears are only 1-2 in their last three trips to Detroit.
So the Bears could be in trouble for their two road games indoors, and could possibly have trouble in their games on turf.
What do you think of the Bears' chances indoors and/or on turf?