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Breaking the Bears' schedule down scientifically
They'll be better. But how much better? Time to go game by game.
The NFL has turned the calendar ordering of games when we already know the opponents into a prime time TV special. Last Thursday, the NFL schedule was announced. Some of the games trickled out on Wednesday, including news that the Bears would not be playing the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in Germany, but rather in Kansas City. It’s a disappointment for people who wanted to travel 4,300 miles to get drunk and watch the Bears lose, when instead they now can travel just 511 miles to do it.
The fun part of schedule release day isn’t the show on NFL network. Rather it’s the clever schedule release videos that some of the teams do.
The Bears got into the act this year with a spoof on the Chicago based FX (on Hulu) show “The Bear.” Unlike the actual show, however, former Cubs first baseman Alfonso Rivas does not play a pivotal role in the plot.
“Who puts cheese on a brat?”
“A simple no would have sufficed.”
In my perfect world, the Bears play 17 noon Sunday games. It works out best for my schedule, and when they lay a big turd of a performance nobody but us sees it. But, in reality the Bears are one of the biggest draws in the league. They play in the third largest market in the NFL, but they have it to themselves. And you and me and most everybody we know watch every game whether they suck or not.
The only hesitance the networks ever have in putting them on prime time is if they get overmatched and it turns into a blowout, the networks can feel the channel being turned in millions of homes around the country.
So, when news that teams could now appear on Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football twice this year, I’d have bet the ranch that the Bears would get two games. And they did.
Why? Because you could put them up against a bad team on Thursday night and even if the game is a complete dud (like last year’s season ebb in that ponderous loss to the Commanders when Darnell Mooney dropped a touchdown at the goal line on the final play) it’s going to do far better than normal numbers for Amazon.
And sure enough, the Bears two Thursday night games against lousy teams. They have a Commanders rematch that nobody asked for on October 5 and host the Panthers (DJ Moore revenge game!) on November 9.
But, that’s not all. The Bears have a fun quarterback, and that was enough to get them the equivalent of six more national TV games. They get their annual Monday night game on November 27 against the Vikings, and Sunday night game on October 29 against the Chargers in LA (that place will be 90 percent Bears fans), but also two coveted 3:25 afternoon games, the opener September 10 at home against the Packers and the week three game at Arrowhead on September 24. For all of the hype around Sunday and Monday night games, the highest rated games of the season always come from the late Sunday window, especially on Fox. And if that’s not enough, there are two late season games where they could be moved to a stand alone Saturday game, including the final week at Green Bay which, if the Bears somehow need it to get into the playoffs could also become that week’s Sunday night game.
It was enough to make NFL schedule maker Mike North (no, not Pappy) tell Peter Schrager that the NFL is really counting on the Bears being good with the schedule they gave them.
“I’ll go with the Chicago Bears. The fact that they were a three win team last year generally means you’re heading for a lot of noon Sunday starts. But in that division now, maybe a little more wide open, than in the past. They got a haul from the draft pick trade and what do any of us know? But we keep hearing Justin Fields looks better than ever. And he was nothing if not exciting last year when we watched him. So, if somebody were going to look at this year’s schedule and be like, who would surprise us that they’re all in on? I’m sure somebody somewhere is going to say, wow, that sure seems like they think the Bears are going to be good. And yeah, I kind of hope they are.” — Mike North, NFL VP of Broadcast Planning and Former Hot Dog Stand Owner?
I mean, it makes sense, right? Here are the Bears in a huge market just dying for them to get good again, with an exciting quarterback. They have been upgrading the offensive weapons on the line. They have a handsome, articulate head coach…well, OK, they have a coach with a good head of hair and a shit load of acronyms. And, despite being 3-14 last season, they lost a bunch of close games while playing with a severe talent deficit.
The Bears lost seven one score games. And they did it with an offense that couldn’t pass (last in the NFL in attempts and yards), and a defense that couldn’t sack the quarterback (dead last), couldn’t stop the run (second to last in rushing TDs allowed and last in yards allowed). So even though their rebuild is only about half complete, they have made a big improvement in their overall talent.
So hey, we’re probably looking at an increase of what? Seven, eight wins? 11-6 and playoffs, here we come!
There’s only one way to find out.
Week one - Packers, home, Sunday, Sept. 10, 3:25 p.m.
Aaron Rodgers is gone, Big Bob Tonyan is finally on the right side of the rivalry and the vaunted Bears’ defense is going to make things a nightmare for Jordan Love in his second career start. Oh, god. The defense is not vaunted. But the offense should score points. Can you imagine if the Bears finally get a Favre and Rodger-less Packers team and crap all over themselves?
When has that ever happened? Oh no.
It won’t happen again. Bears. 1-0
Week two - at Tampa Bay, Sunday, Sept. 17, noon
The Bucs are going to be baaaad. Baker Mayfield will likely be playing QB for them. Bears. 2-0
Week three - at Kansas City, Sunday, Sept. 24, 3:25 p.m.
Many of us will never forgive Matt Nagy for wasting Justin Fields’ rookie season. Well, at least I won’t. So what better way for Fields to get revenge than by upsetting Nagy’s Chiefs? I mean, sure, Nagy is offensively coordinating a team with a quarterback so good he doesn’t need an offensive coordinator, and of course, the head coach is really doing all of the hard work so…yeah, never mind. Chiefs. 2-1
Week four - Broncos, home, Sunday, Oct. 1, noon
The Broncos were crap last year. Russell Wilson was washed up and they fired their head coach during his first season. This should be easy pickings. Except for the fact that Sean Payton is the new coach and he’s likely to force Russell to do the stuff that Russell’s good at and not the flashy shit that Russell bullied Nathaniel Hackett into letting him try to do. Here’s the first game where we realize that while the Bears are better, they still have a long way to go. Broncos. 2-2
Week five - at Washington, Thursday, October 5, 7:15 p.m.
A quick turnaround after a tough loss and a road game against a Commanders team that’s not as bad as we all think. I mean, they aren’t good, especially if Sam Howell is still their quarterback by that week.
Week six - Vikings, home, Sunday, Oct. 15, noon
The good thing about two Thursday night games is two mini-byes. And the Eberflus Bears played their best game of the season last year (the Monday night road upset of the Patriots) coming off that awful Commanders Thursday night loss. They’ll do it again and pound the overrated Kirk (Kurt?) Cousins Vikings. Bears 3-3.
Week seven - Raiders, home, Sunday, Oct. 22, noon
It’s important to know who the Raiders backup quarterback is likely to be because Jimmy Garoppolo will be in traction (like always) by week seven. It could either be former Bears star Brian Hoyer, some guy named Chase Garbers or Purdue rookie Aidan O’Connell. I hope it’s Hoyer and he forgets how many time outs he has again.
Bears. 4-3. Hey, they already have more wins than last year! ‘Flus for coach of the year!
Week eight - at Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Oct. 29, 7:20 p.m.
Yes, the crowd will be mostly sun burned, drunk Bears fans, but I am already dreading the things Justin Herbert is going to do to this defense. It will be avert your eyes every time the Chargers have the ball.
Week nine - at New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 5, noon
The Saints are a hard team to figure out. Derek Carr will be their quarterback. Will Michael Thomas ever play again? Will Alvin Kamara be healthy? I can’t predict any of that six months out. But this already feels like a, “How are we losing to these guys?” game.
Week ten - Panthers, home, Thursday, Nov. 9, 7:15 p.m.
Amazon part two. Coming off back to back road losses the Bears will need to gird up their loins to take on Andy Dalton! and the Panthers. What? You think waify Bryce Young isn’t going to be eating through a tube by week ten?
Week eleven - at Detroit, Sunday, Nov. 19, noon
We could go with the same logic as we did with the Bears using the mini-bye to smoke the Vikings a few weeks back. I mean, it’s the Lions. They are overrated, and their coach is an over caffeinated meathead. But…I think the Bears and Lions are going to split their games and I feel better about them at home. Last year they lost to Detroit by one at Soldier(s) Field and by 31 in Detroit. But, the mini-bye is intriguing. Still…
Week twelve - at Minnesota, Monday, Nov. 27, 7 15 p.m.
The Nagy Bears owned the Vikings (well, the first three years) and Kirk Cousins, so why won’t these Bears with a better coach and an infinitely better quarterback do the same thing? They should have beaten them in Minnesota last year except Ihmir Smith-Marsette (god, remember him?) got the ball stolen from him by Cameron Dantzler while the Bears were driving for the winning score. I just don’t see this Bears team sweeping anybody in the North…or do I? You’ll find out later.
Week thirteen - bye week
Man, this is late, right? But I guess the two Thursday night games have kind of a trade off. Yeah, you play two games on short weeks, but you also get the two mini-byes. Whatever. I love the Bears here to shout out the bye.
Week fourteen - Lions, home, Sunday, Dec. 10, noon
Here the Bears use the real bye and outscheme and outplay the fighting Dan Campbells and smoke the Lions. No mercy.
Bears. 6-7 You know that hovering around .500 this late would give them coveted “In the hunt” placement on the playoff graphics during game broadcasts.
Week fifteen - at Cleveland, either Saturday, Dec. 16 or Sunday, Dec. 17
The NFL could give the Bears yet another prime time game (or maybe just a Saturday afternoon stand alone game…same thing) and Fields can return to the scene of the worst abomination of football any player has ever been subjected to, when Nagy should have been fired at halftime in week three of the 2021 season. The Bears passed for one yard. One. And Fields was sacked nine times and hit approximately 57 times. Here he’ll be matched up against a guy nobody complains the Bears didn’t draft instead of Mitch anymore. My problem here is that I think the Browns will be much improved over last year and I’d lean to the home team in this one.
Week sixteen - Cardinals, home, Christmas Eve, 3:25 p.m.
The Cardinals are going to suck, they’re going to be tanking for Caleb Williams and the Bears are going to kick their ass back to St. Louis before they can fly home to Phoenix.
Bears. 7-8 Still “in the hunt.”
Week seventeen - Falcons, home, New Year’s Eve, noon
The Falcons are going to be frisky this year, but Bears fans are going to get an early start on their celebratory drinking, and what do you know? With a week to go, not only are the Bears a .500 football team, they will likely set up a win and in the playoffs matchup in the final week.
Week eighteen - at Green Bay, Saturday, Jan. 6 or Sunday, Jan. 7
Muahahahahaha. It all comes down to this. Justin Fields on the road in Green Bay with a chance to run and throw the Bears back into the playoffs and make an entire stadium full of cheese and deer urine wearing fans suck it. It will be glorious. The Bears sweep the Packers (get used to it) and sneak in to the coveted seventh playoff spot. Except this time, unlike 2020 we’ll actually be excited about it.
How far is a 9-8 team doing to go in the playoffs, if they even get into the playoffs with that record? Not very far. But how big of a step would that be for this team. They win three must win games in a row to end the season, including one at Lambeau, which would almost certainly be the Saturday or Sunday night game.
It seems realistic. Six game improvements do happen in the NFL, and they are more likely to happen if you have a real quarterback.
And it could lead to a return to the coveted (not really) Nickelodeon simulcast playoff game and this time, a real QB can win the NVP.
So, the Bears schedule release video was clever and well done. Honestly, Peanut Tillman should have a lead role on that show for real. But the kings of this thing are still the Chargers. For the second straight year they did an anime one and the jokes come fast and furious.
Look for them making fun of their own team for blowing a 27-0 playoff game lead to the Jags, the birds breaking their necks on the US Bank Stadium windows, the Raiders coming up losers by “winning” Jimmy G. on the slot machine, the infamous Cowboys social media team’s Tweet after their playoff loss to the Niners last year and them literally throwing Dak under the bus, the Chiefs superfan ChiefsAholic who got busted for arm robbery in the offseason (it’s not a shot at Andy Reid’s kid), and the Rebuild-A-Bears, with all kinds of subtle references…
Mitch saying he loves to…(kiss tittiesss), Smokin’ Jay Cutler, Sexy Rexy, Jim McMahon in the Rozelle headband and his bear is wearing sunglasses, I think the 93 poking his head in from the hall is former Charger Justin Jones, there are Walter Payton and Devin Hester bears, the Fridge bear has a square head, there’s a Decatur sticker with Chargers’ head coach (and former Bears and NIU assistant) Brandon Staley on it and an homage to Wrigley Field with some ivy and a ‘beware of bricks” sign. I’m not sure who the dude in the tie is. It’s not Ditka, and it’s too cool to be Wanny. Help me out if you know that’s supposed to be. Still, a very solid job. And the little Justin Fields bear with the headband is adorable.
Then there’s the Jets one with a Rex Ryan snack stand, Sam Darnold being out with mono, Zach Wilson looking for single cougars in your area, Trae Young punking the Knicks, pizza rat, the old Jets Sac Exchange, and Fireman Ed.
Mina Kimes and her dog Eddie make the video. She does preseason games for the Chargers. There’s also Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe for some reason.
They make fun of the Lions’ gambling suspensions with a really long gambling disclaimer of the kind DraftKings makes me read about 12 times a season on the podcast.
If you think they let Aaron Rodgers off hook in the Jets section it’s because they have him and his darkness retreat for their Packers game.
They the Ravens injured mascot, Bill Belichick monitoring a huge spygate video wall, Russell Wilson in a spatula fight with SpongeBob, they have their own Jimmy G. injury joke with the Raiders getting a cash out ticket costing them the entire total of his contract and the QR code on the ticket works. It has two links. One for Chargers fans to buy tickers and one for Raiders fans with a checklist on how to find a job.
The Bills watch their four failed Super Bowl logos burn, and the second Broncos matchup shows Sean Payton dressed as the mascot, demolishing Russell Wilson’s office. And I’m sure there’s a lot more that I missed.