It’s schedule release day! Finally, some meaningful football news on the way for the Chicago Bears and the rest of the other 31 NFL teams. Couple this on top of next week’s NFL Draft and enjoy it before the long drought of the summer to come.
As usual, the NFL “officially” releases it’s entire schedule in primetime (7:00 C.T.) across networks such as ESPN and NFL Network. It’s a way of squeezing out as much money as possible while competing with the playoffs of other sports such as basketball and hockey.
But the fun of it is, beat writers and reporters always have a small lead-in, as bits of said schedule are actually released before the programs.
On that note, we do already know the Bears’ opponents for the 2017 season. Keep in mind the NFL’s rotation of rotating inter-conference play between the AFC and NFC, as well as playing a different division of the three in your own conference, each year.
In addition to matching up against their regular NFC North opponents in the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings all twice, this season the Bears will play the NFC South and the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (fourth straight season), as well as New Orleans Saints.
Now as you also always play two teams that finished in the same place as you from the other divisions in your conference you’re not primarily matched up against, the Bears will also play the San Francisco 49ers (fourth straight season) and Philadelphia Eagles (second straight season).
With all of that in mind, it’s just up to the NFL schedule makers to make sense of the puzzle and put it altogether as to when each of these games will take place. How many prime time contests do the Bears get this year? Who will they open and close the season against? We’re about to find out.
We’ll be keeping track of what parts of the Bears schedule will be revealed throughout the day all in advance of the wide official release in the evening.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports the Bears will host the Vikings in a “Monday Night Football” game on October 9th in Week 5. They will also close the season against Minnesota on New Year’s Eve on December 31st in Week 17, and play the Panthers at home in Week 7 on October 22nd.
It’s the second straight season Chicago both plays a home Monday night game against the Vikings and finishes the year against them. The Bears split the regular season series with their division rival last year, as both teams won their respective home game.
The last time the Bears played Carolina at all, was in 2014 in a 31-24 loss on the road.
- Mike Bell, a radio personality in Atlanta, released the NFC Champion Falcons’ schedule in entirety. On it, Atlanta travels to face the Bears in the season opener.
Fresh from my source Code name: Bird Brain pic.twitter.com/NSv9gUjI9a— MikeBell929 (@MikeBellATL) April 20, 2017
The last time the two teams met in Soldier Field to open a season, was in 2011, when the Bears blew out the Falcons 30-12.
Harry Teinowitz confirms this report and the Bears will play the Falcons at home in Week 1 of the 2017 season. Interesting move to schedule the defending NFC champion Falcons against a three-win team in the Bears last year, but it is happening.
- Teinowitz always has a pulse on NFL schedule release day. It’s uncanny. Another bit of information of the afternoon has him reporting the Bears will travel to play the Packers on “Thursday Night Football” in Week 4 on September 28th.
It’s the third straight season Chicago travels to Lambeau Field in a Thursday night game and seventh straight overall prime time game played between the two rivals in Wisconsin. The last time the Bears and Packers played a night contest at Soldier Field, was a 2010 early season Monday night game. The Aaron Rodgers factor lives on.
Also worth noting, that for the second straight year, the Bears will play their road game against the Packers and home game against the Vikings in the same order in back-to-back prime time games (albeit a little earlier).
- Teinowitz now reports that Chicago will travel to Philadelphia in Week 12 on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Bears were soundly defeated 29-14 by the Eagles at home in a Monday night game in 2016.
- Biggs reports the Bears’ full September schedule and it includes a Week 2 date on September 17th with the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. And then a home meeting with the Steelers in Week 3 on September 24th.
#Bears September schedule:— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) April 20, 2017
Sept 10 Falcons
Sept 17 at Bucs
Sept 24 Steelers
Sept 28 at Packers
Given that Chicago only plays Pittsburgh once every four years, there isn’t much history as with NFC or divisional teams. But the Bears have won each of their last two meetings with last year’s AFC runner-up, 40-23 in Pittsburgh in 2013, and 17-14 in Chicago in 2009.
Meanwhile, this is the third straight year the Bears will play the Jameis Winston version of the Buccaneers, all on the road in Tampa Bay. They’ve split the previous two meetings: A 26-21 win in 2015 and 36-10 defeat in 2016.
- Biggs also has tabs on the rest of the schedule and we now know the full slate for Chicago in 2017.
#Bears October schedule:— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) April 20, 2017
Oct. 9 Vikings
Oct. 15 at Ravens
Oct. 22 Panthers
Oct. 29 at Saints
#Bears November schedule:— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) April 20, 2017
Nov. 5 bye
Nov. 12 Packers
Nov. 19 Lions
Nov. 26 at Eagles
#Bears December schedule:— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) April 20, 2017
Dec. 3 49ers
Dec. 10 at Bengals
Dec. 16 at Lions
Dec. 24 Browns
Dec. 31 at Vikings
There it is. The full slate.
So that leaves the Bears with two prime time games on Monday and Thursday night football against Minnesota and Green Bay, as well as a late Saturday afternoon game against the Lions on December 16th in Week 15.
The Bears’ road map for the upcoming 2017 season has been officially revealed.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.