The theme to this Bears season must be Justin Fields' development.
Appropriately, the themes to their most intriguing games on the 2022 schedule center around Fields and the other quarterbacks taken in the 2021 draft.
The Bears will find out a great deal about their quarterback simply by seeing him in action against four opponents on their schedule, if those teams' quarterbacks from the 2021 draft class really do play against him.
The Bears' most direct purpose for playing this season intersects directly with their slate of games and creates interest. It's all about Fields.
If you believe critics of the rebuilding plan being used by Bears GM Ryan Poles, it might be the only interesting thing about their season. SI's Conor Orr and ESPN analysts say the Bears are the worst team in the NFL.
If true, about the best they can hope for in terms of wins and losses is to come in under the radar and upset a few teams.
Here are the most intriguing Bears games on the 2022 schedule, preseason or regular season.
You won't find Green Bay against the Bears on this list anywhere. There's nothing fascinating about losing by three touchdowns and being owned by Aaron Rodgers again.
7. Chiefs at Bears, preseason, Aug. 13, noon. There's nothing interesting about the first preseason game ever, except this is the first live performance by the Matt Eberflus team and more importantly, Matt Nagy comes back to Chicago. Add in the Ryan Poles and Chiefs connection. It should be a bit like Mitchell Trubisky's return to Soldier Field last preseason, except Nagy won't be throwing the ball.
6. Bears at Falcons, Nov. 20, noon. The last two Bears GMs are working in Atlanta and have started a collection of former Bears players and assistant coaches. Losing to them wouldn't say too much for Poles or Eberflus, but even November of Year 1 is far too early to jump to conclusions. It's more of a curiosity piece than a matter of intrigue, so it's well down the list of must-see games. But it will be fun nonetheless.
5. Texans at Bears, Sept. 25, noon. Lovie Smith returns to Chicago and it's two teams cut from the same cover-2 cloth facing each other. But more interesting is that it's Davis Mills at quarterback for the Texans, a player the Bears scouted heavily before deciding to trade up for Fields. Can Fields outplay Mills, who actually outplayed him in many aspects as a rookie?
4. Bears at Jets, Nov. 27, noon. It's probably an indication how bad the team will be when one of the most intriguing games will be against the Jets, but it's Fields against Zach Wilson. The Jets took Wilson second overall in the draft and left Fields to fall when some suggested only a month before the draft that he would be the second quarterback selected.
3. Vikings at Bears, Jan. 8, TBA. A full season will be ending at this point but right now this looks intriguing because of the diametrically opposed methods the two teams took to rebuild. The Vikings did it only on a piece-by-piece basis. The Bears went for the total rebuild. The earlier game between the teams won't be a good indication of the better way to do things because the Bears obviously would need more time playing together to win on the road over a Vikings team with more veterans who are familiar with their roles. But give the Bears' approach a full season to simmer and then see whether the plan GM Ryan Poles used was better than the one Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took with Minnesota. Call this one the real battle of the GMs.
2. Bears at New England, Oct. 24, 7:15 p.m. Facing off against quarterback Mac Jones showcases Fields well. Jones made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The Bears traded up to get Fields but had the option there of selecting Jones then, instead. No doubt Fields' wheels saved him from many sacks Jones wouldn't have been able to avoid last year if he had been the Bears quarterback. However, Jones also has shown better ability after working under Josh McDaniels to read defenses and get the ball out faster than Fields. It's also simply a fun game for the Bears because it's always a test to face Bill Belichick. Doing it on the road tests the Bears at this point in the year as a measuring stick.
1. San Francisco at Bears, Sept. 11, noon. The opening game of the season is easily the most intriguing and most often is. First, it's the opener at Soldier Field and no one really knows what to expect from a new regime. Second, it might be the only interesting week for the Bears this year. They might go through 17 more weeks of frustration while awaiting free agency and the draft after this opener.
Finally, it's intriguing because of the Fields connection to Trey Lance in the draft. The 49ers thought Lance was better than Fields. That's motivation for Fields. It's not certain this matchup will even come off because Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the 49ers roster as Lance didn't seize the starting spot from him last year. But the 49ers could start Lance. SI's Albert Breer reports the 49ers still plan to trade Garoppolo. NFL.com quoted tight end George Kittle as calling this "the million-dollar question." Everyone also could get a better view of whether playing 12 games and 10 starts under Matt Nagy actually helped Fields when he goes up against Lance, who sat out almost all of last year. If Fields can even keep the Bears in this game against an NFC playoff team from last year, it could at the very least bode well for a somewhat interesting season and promising future.