NFL Clarifies Why Bears Face Unusual Division Scheduling

Vince Carbonneau
May 17, 2024  (1:26 PM)

Keenan Allen with the Chargers
Photo credit: ESPN

Bears' Peculiar 2024 Schedule: Division Games Delayed and Intense Road Trips

The Chicago Bears' schedule for 2024 was released on Wednesday, revealing several intriguing scheduling decisions. Notably, the Bears won't face a division opponent until their Week 11 matchup with the Green Bay Packers. This late start to divisional play is a departure from the norm, as six of their last eight games are against NFC North rivals. In contrast, the other teams in the division play at least two divisional games before Week 11. This pattern is not unique to the Bears, however; the Pittsburgh Steelers are also set to start their divisional games in Week 11.
Mike North, the NFL Vice President of Broadcast Planning, explained the reasoning behind the schedule during a video conference. According to North, the absence of early division games wasn't intentional but emerged from the scheduling process, which he likened to a non-conference college basketball lineup. He reiterated the NFL's preference for placing divisional games towards the season's end to enhance the drama and uncertainty around playoff spots, a strategy that has been a staple from past scheduling practices.
Looking ahead, the NFL might reconsider such a skewed division schedule for future seasons. Charlotte Carey, NFL's Director of Broadcasting, mentioned on the show "Up and Adams" that with both the AFC and NFC North being highly competitive divisions, the NFL saw no issue with backloading the schedule with division games.
An additional scheduling anomaly for the Bears includes a stretch from Weeks 10-15 featuring three consecutive home games followed by three consecutive road games against Detroit, San Francisco, and Minnesota. Interestingly, the Vikings experience the reverse sequence during the same period. North does not see the Bears' road trip sequence as a disadvantage, pointing out the extra rest days between these games, especially with one game scheduled right after Thanksgiving and another on a Monday night, providing extended breaks that could be strategically beneficial.
The Bears will also participate in four preseason games, starting with the Hall of Fame Game against the Houston Texans on August 1, and will kick off their regular season at home against the Tennessee Titans on September 8.
As seen on SportsMockery - NFL explains reason for Bears' odd division scheduling quirks, three-game road trip
MAY 17   |   75 ANSWERS
NFL Clarifies Why Bears Face Unusual Division Scheduling

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