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2018 NFL Schedule: Bears to open with Packers on “Sunday Night Football”

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The Matt Nagy era kicks off with a primetime bout against Chicago’s long time rival, among other schedule tidbits.

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Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The moment you’ve been waiting for is here! Forget the fact that the Bears’ 2018 opponents were revealed as soon as the regular season ended, and revel in the 2018 NFL schedule release telling you the order they’ll play them in and when.

As is tradition this time of year, while the NFL likes to make a primetime show of pomp and circumstance, most of the schedule for teams leaks out prior to the television special airing. It’s likely that this program is for those who don’t have Twitter, which thankfully, is still many.

In Chicago, sports media personality Harry Teinowitz, a well-connected man around these parts, often tweets out the schedule in it’s entirety before the league makes it official. Call him a “schedule guru” of sorts. Outside of exact times besides the set primetime games, the Bears’ gauntlet is locked into place. SiriusXM Radio’s Bill Zimmerman has also backed this lineup.

With that in full mind, here is the Bears’ (reported) 2018 regular season schedule:

Week 1 at Green Bay Packers, “Sunday Night Football”, 7:20 p.m. CT - NBC

  • The Packers are celebrating their 100th season in 2018. They wanted an opponent worthy of such an honor to kick off this milestone year. Enter the Bears into the national spotlight. Because it went very well the last time Green Bay wanted Chicago for a special night. Of note, the last four Bears coaches (John Fox, Marc Trestman, Lovie Smith, and Dick Jauron) each won their first visit to Lambeau Field. Maybe the Matt Nagy era starts off with a similar bang.

Week 2 vs. Seattle Seahawks, “Monday Night Football”, 7:15 p.m. CT - ESPN

  • The first home game of Nagy’s tenure comes against Russell Wilson and the Wilson Five (53). Meaning that the Seahawks are about to likely experience a major decline. Seriously, someone get Wilson some help. This means that the Bears should be in good position to start their home schedule off on the right foot after winning seven total home games in the past three seasons. And once again, they get to do it on a national stage.

Week 3 at Arizona Cardinals, 3:25 p.m. CT - FOX

  • How the mighty have fallen. Another former powerhouse NFC West team, the Cardinals made the NFC Championship Game two years ago. Now, they’re on the precipice of a lengthy rebuild with a new head coach in Steve Wilks. The Bears should be in prime position to continue to start 2018 well in Glendale, Arizona.

Week 4 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Noon CT - FOX

  • The Bears have played the Buccaneers in four straight seasons, going 2-2 and losing their last two on the road in Tampa Bay. On the strength of a rising defense that could use Jameis Winston as cannon fodder, the Bears can make headway of a light September schedule after this visit from the Buccaneers.

Week 5: Bye Week

  • The Bears of recent years have gotten their crucial rest period around the midway point of the season. Though, that clearly hasn’t helped them much in the results department. This bye week is earlier than year’s past, but at least it isn’t that early. Remember that there’s always the mini bye after teams play Thursday games still in the back pocket.

FYI: Flex scheduling begins week 5

Week 6 at Miami Dolphins, Noon CT - FOX

  • Adam Gase or “The One That Supposedly Got Away” plays the Bears for the first time, without his former mentor John Fox in the fold. No one can be quite sure (Ryan Tannehill) as to who the quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) for the Dolphins will be (Ryan Tannehill), but this should be an interesting game as the Bears’ first AFC East opponent.

Week 7 vs. New England Patriots, Noon CT - CBS

  • Four opportunities to slay the dragon, four losses. The Bears have never defeated future First-Ballot Hall of Famer Tom Brady. Given Brady’s age at 40, this is likely Chicago’s last shot in what should be a prime afternoon national game. A measure of pride.

Week 8 vs. New York Jets, Noon CT - CBS

  • With the Jets visiting just three days before Halloween, look for this contest to be when the Bears re-reveal their orange jerseys announced a few weeks back. It could also be a game where they play against a rookie starting quarterback. Always an advantage for the experienced defense.

Week 9 at Buffalo Bills, Noon CT - FOX

  • Well, that was quick. Over the course of most of October and the first weekend of November, the Bears wrap up their schedule against the AFC East early in 2018 with four straight games against the division. Like the Jets, it’s likely the Bears play a rookie Bills’ starting quarterback. No excuses for a defense that considers itself on the rise.

Week 10 vs. Detroit Lions, Noon CT - FOX

  • Matt Patricia’s Lions visit Soldier Field for the first time in mid November. Fun fact: Patricia’s Patriots defense only gave up 40 points twice in 2017. Against the Eagles and Andy Reid disciple Doug Pederson in Super Bowl LIII, and against Nagy’s Chiefs in Week 1. This contest has the potential to be a barnburner on the always reliable Soldier Field turf.

Week 11 vs. Minnesota Vikings, Noon CT - FOX

  • Chicago gets it’s first taste of Kirk Cousins in purple and gold, as the Vikings visit the Bears the week before Thanksgiving. The Vikings, coming off a blowout NFC Championship loss last January, should again be one of the NFL’s best teams. At this point in the season, much more will be known about both squads in new digs.

Week 12 at Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving), 11:30 a.m. CT - CBS

  • The last time the Bears played the Lions on Thanksgiving they were smacked around 34-17 in 2014. That was at the height of the Calvin Johnson era, however. This time around, with the holiday spirit starting to rise in earnest, they’ll obviously look for different more successful results. Chicago hasn’t won in Detroit since the season finale in 2012.

Week 13 at New York Giants, Noon CT - FOX

  • Another swan song for the Bears against a veteran quarterback, albeit one they’ve had much more success against. Chicago is 3-3 against Eli Manning in his career, beating him once in New Yo-er East Rutherford, New Jersey in 2006: when they went to Super Bowl XLI. This could be the Giants riding high with Manning one last time.

Week 14 vs. Los Angeles Rams, Noon CT - FOX

  • Los Angeles is going to be a cliche pick to win the NFC this season because of all of the moves they’ve made to this point. Nabbing Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, and Brandin Cooks does that with an already impressive core led by Aaron Donald in place. The Bears assuredly have their hands full against one of the conference’s top contenders. At least this game will be played in December with the possibility of “Bear Weather”, right?

Week 15 vs. Green Bay Packers, Noon CT - FOX

  • After meeting in Week 1, the Bears and Packers don’t meet until the week before Christmas. Considering the configurations of the NFC North, this game is going to be crucial for playoff positioning. The Bears have always done well against Aaron Rodgers with playoff implications. Yes sir, they’ve never had any moment backfire on them. This is also 2018’s home finale.

Week 16 at San Francisco 49ers, 3:05 p.m. CT - FOX

  • Mitchell Trubisky. Jimmy Garoppolo. Mitchell Trubisky! Jimmy Garoppolo! Kyle Shanahan? John Lynch? That’ll be the narrative leading up to this game that can factor into the NFC Wild Card race. Always good to compare a 24-year-old quarterback to a 27-year-old, I have to say.

Week 17 at Minnesota Vikings, Noon CT - FOX

  • The Bears have closed out the regular season on the road in Minnesota in four of the last six seasons. This hasn’t gone swimmingly for them, as they haven’t won on the Vikings’ turf since New Year’s Day 2012. No one ever said the NFL was wholeheartedly creative with it’s scheduling.

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General notes:

  • The Bears open with the Packers, a divisional opponent in Week 1, but then don’t play an NFC North counterpart until Week 10. They play their remaining five divisional games in five out of the last eight weeks of the season. An obvious backload of competition the NFL strives for with it’s divisions.
  • The Bears didn’t appear once on “Sunday Night Football” in the 2017 season. The last time they appeared was a blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in 2016. The last time they opened at the Packers in primetime was also a defeat in 2009. A look towards changing history.
  • As mentioned, every AFC opponent is taken care of in the middle of the season, inter-conference play out the window early.

Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron and Inside The Pylon, and is a contributor to Pro Football Weekly and The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.