Under normal circumstances, football fans would be anticipating the release of the NFL schedule in just a few days considering that it’s already Mid-April. However, the schedule came out a few weeks later than usual in 2020 due to quirks brought about by COVID-19. In 2021, the NFL added a 17th game to the docket. That development threw a wrench in the schedule-makers’ plans to release this year’s schedule on time.
Now with the full slate of games expected to drop in the second week of May, all fans can do is wait. In the meantime, fans can enjoy the NFL Draft, which takes place in just 21 days.
Even though there isn’t a schedule expected for another month, that doesn’t mean Bears can’t have fun building their own. So that’s just what we’re going to do. First things first… who are the Bears’ opponents in 2021?
The Chicago Bears will have an uneven number of home and away contests this year due to the 17-game schedule. The NFL has decided the NFC will have more away games in odd-numbered years and the AFC will have more away games in even-numbered years.
NFC North (6 games)
The usual suspects at home and away.
|Home||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||Detroit Lions|
|Away||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||Detroit Lions|
NFC West (4 games)
However, the NFC North teams face all four teams from the other NFC divisions on three-year rotation. Hence, this year—for the Bears—it’s the NFC West.
|Home||Arizona Cardinals||San Francisco 49ers|
|Away||Seattle Seahawks||Los Angeles Rams|
AFC North (4 games)
Similarly, the NFC North teams will face all four teams from an AFC division on a four-year rotation. In 2021, the Bears draw AFC North.
|Home||Cincinnati Bengals||Baltimore Ravens|
|Away||Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers|
Intra-Conference (2 games)
In general, the NFC North teams face their counterpart (based on standings) from the other NFC divisions they weren’t scheduled to play. During this particular season, it’ll be the NFC East and NFC South teams.
Since the Bears finished in second place in the NFC North in 2020, they’ll play the respective second-place teams from 2020 in those divisions.
|Home||New York Giants|
|Away||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
Inter-Conference (1 game)
Consequently, this is the 17th game added to the schedule. The same rule of thumb applies to this game as it does for the intra-conference game. The exception is that it’s only one team from one AFC division. The NFC North has been paired up with the AFC West this year.
Nevertheless, the Bears will get to face the second place finisher from this division as well.
|Away||Las Vegas Raiders|
Now, here comes the fun part. While it’s more or less just randomly throwing together a schedule, this exercise does require a certain level of logic and understanding of the NFL. For example, the NFL always features divisional games in the final week of the season.
Without further ado, here it is — an attempt at piecing together a 2021 schedule for the Chicago Bears.
|1||9/12||vs. Cincinnati Bengals|
|2||9/19||vs. Arizona Cardinals|
|3||9/26||at Pittsburgh Steelers|
|4||10/3||at Seattle Seahawks|
|5||10/11||vs. Minnesota Vikings||MNF|
|6||10/17||at Detroit Lions|
|7||10/24||vs. New York Giants|
|9||11/7||at Green Bay Packers||SNF|
|10||11/14||vs. Detroit Lions|
|11||11/21||vs. Baltimore Ravens||MNF|
|12||11/28||at Los Angeles Rams|
|13||12/5||vs. San Francisco 49ers|
|14||12/9||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TNF|
|15||12/19||at Cleveland Browns|
|16||12/25||vs. Green Bay Packers||Sat.|
|17||1/2||at Las Vegas Raiders|
|18||1/9||at Minnesota Vikings|
Obviously, generating a logical schedule is a tougher task than it seems. It’s not trivial at all. However, in this case, This schedule wasn’t just thrown together. It took a little bit of research into the past ten seasons and finding certain trends, tendencies, and patterns of NFL scheduling (as far as the Bears are concerned).
The making of an NFL schedule is an art and a science. It takes the human element and the computer to work in sync to get all the games to fit. Kudos to those who are tasked with generating one for all 32 teams at the league offices.
As far as this schedule goes, Andy Dalton (presumably) would face his former team in Week 1 at Soldier Field. Who says no?
What about the Bears having five primetime games again? Yeah, that might be a bit of a stretch considering how poorly they’ve performed under the bright lights lately. However, considering the marquee matchups they have this year, they might still be a draw. Especially for the major networks that love being super critical of the Bears and piling on to the constant misery. If laughing at the Bears and their fans is what you’re after, this is just what the doctor ordered… and you know who you are.
So Bears fans, the question is… how do we feel about this potential schedule? What would you change and/or how would yours look? Let us know in the comments or Twitter replies.
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