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An Edge the Bears Can Use

Schedule has more in it favoring the Bears than weaker opponents and a late-season home stand.

After the schedule first came out, Bears coach Matt Eberflus said he didn't care about the fact their bye week was the latest it has ever been.

Caring little about the Week 14 bye does not mean Eberflus ignores the schedule, though. To the contrary, he realizes the built-in advantage the Bears and quarterback Justin Fields have with this year's schedule.

Any new coaching staff could use an edge, and this year's schedule provides more of an advantage for the Bears than simply giving them a weaker slate of opponents and a long late-season stint at home.

The Bears' edge comes early and it's how they are very familiar with the style of play from their opponents in the first three weeks of the schedule, and four of the first five weeks.  It's not the only other edge but is the main one.

"Yeah, we've started that process and we're looking at that," coach Matt Eberflus said. "Once you get the schedule you look and see, hey, who's your first three or four games? What are the short weeks that you come upon during the course of the (season) and what preparation you're going to need to get ahead, so to speak, during training camp.

"Any unique type of scheme that you might see during the course of your schedule be it run or pass, you know, a running type quarterback that might be doing something unique where you have to work on it during training camp. We'll be working on our division during training camp as well as some of those early opponents and that's typical to the league."

The Bears play the same style of offense now as San Francisco and Green Bay, as they switched to more of the Mike Shanahan style of offense that his son Kyle has popularized with the 49ers. Also, they'll have an extra possible edge in facing Green Bay because offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was the Packers quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.

In Week 3, they host the Houston Texans. Coach Lovie Smith's cover-2 style defense is the one Eberflus' grew out of, so there will be very close similarities.

"I mean I think you lean on what you have in the building, you know, so we have a few guys from that (Packers) staff and guys that have been part of that system as well," Eberflus said. "(QB coach) Andrew Janocko was part of that system, too (with Minnesota), very similar system, so those guys are giving us great insight into that and we're gonna be practicing against a similar offense so that's gonna be very helpful for the early part of our schedule."

Another potential edge for the Bears defensively is going against the AFC East in four games.

Eberflus and almost the entire Bears defensive coaching staff came over from the Colts. Last year the Colts played the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.

They also played Houston twice in divisional games and San Francisco and have those teams on this year's schedule.

In all, there are seven games the Bears have against teams the Colts faced when Eberflus and much of his staff were in Indianapolis last year. And in those games, the Colts went 7-0.

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Things do change from year to year due to free agency.

And, of course, they don't have the Colts roster from last year. They have a rebuilt Bears roster.

"I think you're looking to put yourself in the best position to succeed and you have to look at the roster, the way they currently have it," Eberflus said of opponents. "There's a lot of guys that left certain places, added players, just like we did.

"So, you have to look at that skill set and then look and see how you're going to match up on personnel and then also on your scheme. So, I think that's all-encompassing."

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