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Rough Start Challenges Rebuilding Bears

Facing consecutive playoff teams to start the 2022  season will challenge the Bears but a more balanced and easier schedule overall gives them a chance for some success during what figures to be a rebuilding year.

It's not much help considering their current state, but the rebuilding Bears face what looks like their easiest schedule since winning the NFC North title in 2018.

The opponents already were known, and when the official league schedule came out on Thursday there were no horrifying jolts with the dates, although it's likely coach Matt Eberflus and his staff would probably prefer to play a few more easier opponents early.

Instead, two of the tougher games on this schedule confront quarterback Justin Fields and the Bears right out of the starting gate as they open at home against NFC West playoff team San Francisco in a noon, Sept. 11 start to the season. Then they follow it up with what has now become a customary trip to Green Bay for a night game, this one on Sept. 18.

The Bears have played the Packers in at least one night game a year since 2006 and over the last 12 years 11 those night games have been at Lambeau Field.

Another difficult stretch confronts the Bears in Weeks 5-8. They have a Thursday night home game in Week 5 with Ron Rivera's Washington Commanders only four days after traveling to Minnesota. Then, in their next game after playing Washington they go on the road for a Sunday night game at New England. Three games in 15 days is followed by Dallas on the road in Week 8, one of seven games they have against 2021 playoff teams.

Their opponents, combined, had a .471 winning percentage last year, which is tied for the eighth easiest schedule using those standards.

The schedule includes the latest bye the Bears have ever had, Week 14 which is the weekend of Dec. 11.

They'll have a second back-to-back playoff challenge late in the year, but both of those games are at home and it could prove to be a good test to where an inexperienced, rebuilt team has come over the course of the schedule. 

The Bears host four of their last five games. They host Green Bay Dec. 4, Philadelphia Dec. 18 and then Buffalo on Saturday, Christmas Eve, before closing the season by going to Ford Field and then facing the Vikings at home.

Perhaps the easiest stretch is four weeks following the game at Dallas. 

In Weeks 9-12 they play Miami at Soldier Field, the Lions at Soldier Field, then are on the road with Atlanta and the Jets. Only Miami had a winning record in that stretch of opponents, and the Dolphins have undergone a coaching change.

It's possible the Atlanta game will be the most interesting one of the season as they go up against the team former GMs Ryan Pace and Phil Emery now  work for, and they've brought in a busload of former Bears players and coaches. On Thursday, they reportedly reached agreement with former Raiders linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, who left the Bears in free agency after 2019 and four seasons. Besides Pace and Emery they have receiver/return man Cordarrelle Patterson, running back Damien Williams, offensive linemen Germain Ifedi, Elijah Wilkinson and Rashaad Coward, safety Teez Tabor  and edge rusher James Vaughters. They also have five former Bears assistant coaches including offensive coordiantor Dave Ragone.

First-year Texans coach Lovie Smith makes a return to Soldier Field in Week 3 to face his old team, without Deshaun Watson in tow now, and with another rebuilt franchise.

The next week the Bears are at New York to play the Giants, who also have a first-year coach in Brian Daboll. They have five total games against teams with new coaching staffs, including two with Minnesota.

Chicago Bears 2022 Schedule

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 11: 49ers, Noon, FOX TV

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 18: At Packers, 7:20 p.m., NBC

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 25: Texans, noon, CBS

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2: At N.Y. Giants, noon, FOX

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Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9: At Vikingsoon, FOX

Week 6: Thursday, Oct. 13, Commanders, 7:15 p.m., Prime Video

Week 7: Monday, Oct. 24, At Patriots, 7:15 p.m., ESPN

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30, At Cowboys, noon, FOX

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, Dolphins, noon, CBS

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, Lions, noon, FOX

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20, At Falcons, noon, FOX

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27, At Jets, noon, FOX

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, Packers, noon, FOX

Week 14: BYE WEEK

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, Eagles, noon, FOX

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24, Bills, noon, CBS

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1 At Lions, noon, FOX

Week 18: Sunday, Jan. 8, Vikings, TBD, TBD

Preseason

Week 1: Saturday, Aug. 13, Chiefs at Bears, Noon, FOX

Week 2: Thursday, Aug. 18 at Seahawks, 7 p.m., ESPN

Week  3: Saturday, Aug. 27 at Browns, 6 p.m., FOX

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