The NFL seems to be taking their time putting together and releasing the 2010 schedule this year. With it not scheduled to be out later this month, and not even receiving the big Thanksgiving day matchups during meetings that we normally get, it's got people's mouths salivating to start talking about matchups.
The hot talk of the league right now is the big trade between the Eagles and Redskins, sending six time Pro Bowl QB Donovan McNabb for a second rounder in 2010, and a third or fourth rounder in 2011.
Well it just so happens that we don't know the schedule, but we know the opponents. And those two teams? They're on the Bears radar this year. Let's take a look at them, and some of these other games, below.
Thanks to cbssports.com, we have this ready-made list of the Bears opponents this year.
Home: Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, New York Jets
Away: Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins
As you can see, the Bears play the NFC East and the AFC East in their entirety, along with the other matchups that fall in based off of 2009 records. A few other nice things--no WEST COAST trip this year, meaning no jet lagged and hibernatin' Bears getting off the plane/bus running/throwing.
So how do these new-look teams affect the Bears? Well, instinctively, I'd like to get those games in early in the season. The more time you give McNabb to become comfortable with the other 'Skins personnel, and with coach Shanahan, the better that team is going to be. At the same time, you'd like to get the Eagles early enough that Kolb hasn't had the chance to get fully situated, either. While yes, in a perfect world, we'd like the Sex Cannon to start for the Redskins, that's probably not going thappen.
The one thing to realize though, is that the Giants and Cowboys now have to face a new-look Redskins team too. That division is going to beat up on each other pretty heavily, which should help the other teams (like the Bears) that get to play them during the season.
As it comes to the NFC North...it should be a similar battle. The three non-Detroit teams match up well, and the Lions look to be staggering out of their basement sometime relatively soon.
Don't be surprised if the battles in the NFC North and NFC East look very similar this year--both divisions should have slugfests rolling into the last two weeks, and there's no reason to think that the wildcards won't be from both of those divisions.
The AFC East, well, it's full of solid teams, too. The Patriots will be tough, so it's nice to have them in Chicago and not Massachusetts. The Jets surprised a lot of people, and if they grow instead of regress, they can be pretty tough. Chad Henne is stepping up as a starter in Miami, and they're looking to make a strong push too.
The Panthers and Seahawks? Too early to tell, methinks. They're restructuring a lot. They could be good, they could be trainwrecks.
The Bears don't have an easy schedule ahead of them, that's for sure. Do you guys have any obscenely early predictions for how these games will go? Any of the off-season moves that these teams have made scare you?
P.S. Baseball fans: Happy Opening Day.