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Does offseason strength of schedule matter?

We take a closer look at the Bears strength of schedule for the 2021 season, but also a peek back at what it was the last few years as well.

Chicago Bears v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

In 2021 the Chicago Bears will play the other three teams in their division twice each, they’ll play the four teams in the AFC North, the four teams in the NFC West, two games against other second place teams in the NFC, and one game against a second place team from the AFC.

In total, they’ll play eight of their 17 games against teams that made the playoffs a year ago.

You add all those team winning percentages together from the 2020 season and you come up with the third toughest schedule for the 2021 season at .550.

On paper it seems a daunting task to match up with the always tough AFC North and the NFC West this season, but how many playoff teams from one year fail to make the playoffs the following season?

We usually see about half the league’s playoff teams miss out on a return to the postseason in consecutive years, but every offseason there’s a big hullabaloo made about strength of schedule.

An offseason full of retirements, free agency, and the draft can quickly alter a team’s fortunes. Injuries and suspensions can severely mess with a team’s playoff aspirations, and an injury to a starting quarterback can take a team from a postseason hopeful to a top ten draft pick.

Before the 2016 season the Bears strength of schedule was the second easiest in the NFL at .461 and they proceeded to go 3-13 with such a favorable set of teams to play.

Heading into the 2017 season the Bears were facing a strength of schedule of of .479, which was ranked 19th in the league, and the Bears took that “easy” schedule and went 5-11.

Before the 2018 season the Bears were up against the 8th highest strength of schedule at .520, but they went 12-4 and claimed the NFC North title.

They had that same .520 schedule strength heading into the 2019 season, but this time it was the 5th toughest, and they went 8-8.

The Bears went 8-8 again last year, and before the 2020 season kicked off the Bears were up against the 13th toughest schedule at .509.

Here are a few scheduling nuggets about the Bears’ 2021 opponents.

  • The last two times Chicago played the AFC North (2017 and 2013) they swept that division.
  • The last time the Bears took on the NFC West (2018) they went 4-0 against them.
  • Chicago plays the Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers in 2021, and when they played a year ago the Bears won 20 to 19 behind Nick Foles’ 243 yards passing, 2 sacks from Khalil Mack, and a 4th-quarter field goal from Cairo Santos.
  • The new 17 game schedule means the Bears will travel to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders, and Chicago is 8-7 all-time against that franchise.

Dates and times will be announced later this Spring, but for now here’s how the Bears match up for the 2021 season.

HOME: Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants

AWAY: Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Las Vegas Raiders.

Poll

How much stock do you put into the NFL’s offseason strength of schedule?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    A lot
    (38 votes)
  • 44%
    A little
    (106 votes)
  • 39%
    Who cares
    (94 votes)
238 votes total Vote Now