Sam already took a deeper look at the Chicago Bears opponents on a week by week basis, and he asked you to predict their record right here. This time out I'll take a crack at a very early weekly breakdown, but I'm going to rank the games from easiest to win to hardest.
Last year the Bears were 6-10 and head coach John Fox has historically improved his teams from year one to year two, so to think that the Bears are on the upswing makes sense. Also consider that the Bears had the toughest schedule last season, but this year they have the 3rd easiest schedule (on paper at least).
The Bears are facing the AFC South and the NFC East this year, the two divisions with the worst winning percentage from last season. Also the Bears are taking on 4 teams that are employing new head coaches.
The six games against the 2015 playoff teams will obviously be tough, but four of them are division games, so anything can happen. The other two division champs were each 9-7, so we're not talking about juggernauts here.
Here's my list of the easiest Bears games to the hardest.
1) Monday, September 19th, Week 2 vs the Eagles
Home opener on Monday Night Football and the Bears get an Eagles team breaking in a new 1st time head coach (Doug Pederson). The Bears could be 0-1 after facing the Texans in week 1, so Fox's guys may be hungry to even out their record.
2) Sunday, November 27th, Week 12 vs the Titans
The Titans have been one of the worst teams in the NFL for a couple years now. The last time the Bears faced the Titans, current Bears O.C. Dowell Loggains was their QB coach. The Bears won that game 51-20 and the traveling Bears' fans drank all the beer in Nashville.
3) Sunday, December 4th, Week 13 vs the 49ers
One week after the Bears host the Titans, they get Chip Kelly's 49ers who are coming off a cross country road trip to Miami on week 12. Interestingly enough, David Fucillo who writes for Niners Nation, ran through this same exercise for the 49ers and he had the Bears as their 6th most winnable game.
4) Sunday, November 13th, Week 10 at the Buccaneers
The Bears get to travel to Tampa Bay following their bye week to take on first time NFL head coach Dirk Koetter and 2nd year QB Jameis Winston.
5) Sunday, October 2nd, Week 4 vs the Lions
The 7-9 Lions not only swept the Bears last year, they swept them in 2014 and 2013 too. John Fox needs to send a message to the NFC North with a win after going 1-7 at Soldier Field last year.
6) Sunday, October 9th, Week 5 at the Colts
While the Bears are hosting the Lions during week 4, the Colts will be playing a "road game" in Wembley Stadium. That 10 hour flight may cause some jet-lag.
7) Sunday, November 20th, Week 11 at the Giants
Last year the Giants went 6 and 10 so they fired long time head coach Tom Coughlin, and replaced him with 1st time head coach Ben McAdoo. I agree with Sam, this will be a tough road game, but it's winnable.
8) Monday, October 31st, Week 8 vs the Vikings
The Bears play a Monday nighter a week after their Thursday nighter, so extra prep time for John Fox and company.
9) Sunday, October 16th, Week 6 vs the Jaguars
Jacksonville is an improving young team and they host the Bears following their bye week. This game will be tougher than most will think.
10) Sunday, September 25th, Week 3 at the Cowboys
Dallas was 4-12 last year, but they were without starting QB Tony Romo most of the season.
11) Sunday December 11th, Week 14 at the Lions
Late season division rivalries are always tough games to call.
12) Saturday, December 24th, Week 16 vs the Redskins
Washington and the Bears could both be fighting for playoff positioning.
13) Sunday, September 11th, Week 1 at the Texans
The Texans have gone 9-7 the last two years, and they had a very productive free agency by bringing in Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller. Winning in their home opening will be tough.
14) Thursday, October 29th, Week 7 at the Packers
Green Bay will want revenge after losing on Brett Favre Appreciation night last year.
15) Sunday, January 1st, Week 17 at the Vikings
The Vikes were a playoff team last year and the Bears hope to be a playoff team this year. This game will be played in the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Bears haven't won in Minnesota since 2012.
16) Sunday, December 18th, Week 15 vs the Packers
As Sam mentioned in his article, the Bears haven't beaten the Packers in Soldier Field since 2010. Whether we like to admit it or not, the Packers are the class of the NFC North until someone knocks them off.
What are some of the easier/tougher games you guys see on the schedule?
FYI, this list is sponsored by Mike Ditka's Cigar.