The 2021 Bears schedule was released along with the rest of NFL schedule on Wednesday and the Bears are playing four national TV games in the final nine weeks of the season.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, they're starting the season with Andy Dalton at quarterback but all expectations are rookie Justin Fields will be on the field sometime during the course of the season. He could be in place by the final portion of the schedule for prime time.
At least for now, Dalton will start the season and he'll be in place to oppose new Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford at Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles when the Bears open the season on Sunday Night Football against coach Sean McVay's team. The Bears lost the last two years at L.A. with Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback.
The Bears have opened seven times in prime time and have lost four. All four losses came to the Green Bay Packers. They won all three games against opponents other than Green Bay.
The home-opener will be against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 19. Prior to the opener there will be two preseason games at Soldier Field as the Bears welcome back fans for the first time since 2019.
In preseason, they host Miami on Saturday, Aug. 14 at noon and Buffalo Aug. 21 at noon before closing preseason at Tennessee at 6 p.m. Aug. 28. There are now only three preseason games.
There is one earlier game against the Green Bay Packers this season and the question now is who will face the Bears at quarterback in the Oct. 17 noon game at Soldier Field, since Aaron Rodgers remains at odds with his team and the Packers have reportedly signed backup quarterback Blake Bortles to support second-year quarterback Jordan Love. The other game against their rivals in Lambeau Field will be Week 14 in one of the night games scheduled.
The toughest stretch of the schedule appears to begin with the first Packers game Oct. 17. They face four playoff teams from last year and another team which was in the Super Bowl the previous year, the San Francisco 49ers, in five games but it also encompasses their bye week and three of the five games are at Soldier Field.
The Bears first play the Detroit Lions game in a national TV spot on Thanksgiving at 11:30 a.m. Then, two weeks later, they are at Green Bay at night. They play a Monday night game the following week, Dec. 20, at Soldier Field against the Minnesota Vikings. The other prime-time game is Nov. 8 at Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football.
The first Bears trip to Las Vegas for a game is Week 5 on Oct. 10.
In another highly anticipated game, the Bears will face the Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa on Oct. 24. The Bears beat Tampa Bay 20-19 at Soldier Field last year.
The schedule includes eight games against teams in the playoffs last year and is the third most difficult schedule in the league based on last year's records. The teams on this year's schedule were 149-122-1 last season.
Chicago Bears 2021 Schedule
Week 1: Bears at Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Sept. 12, 7:20 p.m.
Week 2: Cincinnati Bengals at Bears, Sunday, Sept. 19, noon
Week 3: Bears at Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 26, noon
Week 4: Detroit Lions at Bears, Sunday, Oct. 3, noon
Week 5: Bears at Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Oct. 10, 3:05 p.m.
Week 6: Green Bay Packers at Bears, Sunday, Oct. 17, noon
Week 7: Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Oct. 24, 3:25 p.m.
Week 8: San Francisco 49ers at Bears, Sunday, Oct. 31, noon
Week 9: Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers, Monday, Nov. 8, 7:15 p.m.
Week 10: Bye Week
Week 11: Baltimore Ravens at Bears, Sunday, Nov. 21, noon
Week 12: Bears at Detroit Lions, Thursday, Nov. 25, 11:30 a.m.
Week 13: Arizona Cardinals at Bears, Sunday, Dec. 5, noon
Week 14: Bears at Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Dec. 12, 7:20 p.m.
Week 15: Minnesota Vikings at Bears, Monday, Dec. 20, 7:15 p.m.
Week 16: Bears at Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 26, 3:05 p.m.
Week 17: New York Giants at Bears, Sunday, Jan. 2, noon
Week 18: Bears at Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Jan. 9, noon
Week 1: Miami Dolphins at Bears, Saturday, Aug. 14, noon
Week 2: Buffalo Bills at Bears, Saturday, Aug. 21, noon
Week 3: Bears at Tennessee Titans, Saturday, Aug. 28, 6 p.m.