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"Bears' 2024 NFL Schedule Unveiled: Addressing Two Crucial Queries"


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Vince Carbonneau
May 7, 2024  (11:59)
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NFL Schedule
Photo credit: NFL.com

The NFL is set to release its 2024 schedule this week, with expectations pointing to Thursday, May 9 as the likely date, although the NFL has not yet confirmed this. Once the schedule is public, it will clarify the playoff pathway for the Chicago Bears and their rookie quarterback, Caleb Williams, amid a season brimming with anticipation.

The Bears' opponents for the year are already known. They will face away games against the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, and Washington Commanders, and make their usual visits to NFC North rivals in Green Bay, Detroit, and Minnesota. At home, the Bears will host the New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and their NFC North counterparts. Notably, one of the home games will be played in London, likely against the Jaguars in mid-October.
The Bears are entering the 2024 season with high playoff hopes, bolstered by significant improvements at quarterback, in the offensive coordinator position, and among the skill groups. The schedule plays a key role in these expectations, just below these enhancements.
Chicago's lineup includes matchups against quarterbacks like C.J. Stroud, Brock Purdy, Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford, and Trevor Lawrence, along with twice facing Jordan Love and Jared Goff. They will also encounter newcomers like Jayden Daniels and sophomores Will Levis, Bryce Young, and Anthony Richardson, plus the victors of anticipated quarterback competitions in New England and Minnesota.
Based on last year's performances, the Bears are projected to have the third-easiest strength of schedule, with their opponents' 2023 win percentage at .467. However, this doesn't account for offseason developments.
NFL analytics expert Warren Sharp's model, which predicts the 2024 strength of schedule based on forecasted records, also ranks the Bears' schedule as third-easiest, following only the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers.
This relatively light schedule, combined with new assets like Williams, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, and players Keenan Allen, Rome Odunze, and D'Andre Swift, sets a clear target of 10 wins and a playoff spot for the Bears this fall.
However, the schedule's sequence is crucial—it can significantly shape expectations for Williams and the team. Challenges such as a tough stretch of games, prolonged travel periods, and an inopportune bye week could greatly impact their playoff prospects.
While the Bears' schedule appears favorable on paper, their slow start last year—a 1-4 record after the first five games—raises questions. A similar start this season, leading into tough games against the 49ers, Jaguars, Packers, and Lions, could end their playoff hopes early. Conversely, a strong start against teams like the Jaguars, Commanders, Patriots, and Panthers could position the Bears as this year's breakout team, potentially boasting a 6-2 record halfway through the season.
The order of games will also provide a glimpse into what can be expected from Williams in his highly anticipated rookie season. Will he face an easier start against teams with weaker defenses, or will he be tested right away with tough matchups?
The absence of elite defensive opponents, with only San Francisco and Carolina ranking in the top 10 for scoring defense last season, will help in assessing how Williams' season may unfold.
Despite potential rookie setbacks, the Bears, with their balanced strength on both offense and defense, are well-positioned to contend for the playoffs in 2024. With the strategic acquisitions made by General Manager Ryan Poles, including drafting Williams and Odunze in the first round, the Bears are poised for significant impact this season.
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"Bears' 2024 NFL Schedule Unveiled: Addressing Two Crucial Queries"

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