Ranking the toughest five games on the 2024 Bears schedule

Vince Carbonneau
May 17, 2024  (3:35 PM)

Matt Eberflus coaching the Bears
Photo credit: EPSN

Five tough games on the 2024 Bears schedule

Bears face a tough challenge against the Vikings in Minnesota on Monday Night Football
Playing a Monday Night Football game against a division rival is always tough. This year's matchup against the Minnesota Vikings came close to being ranked fifth but ultimately edged out the L.A. Rams. The road setting in Minnesota presents a significant challenge, especially for rookie quarterback Caleb Williams. The Rams game, although difficult, is a home game where the Bears have enjoyed a winning streak. They've beaten the Rams three straight times in Chicago and won five consecutive home games last year. The Rams are not as formidable without Aaron Donald, who might return from retirement, but it seems unlikely. Matthew Stafford is another year older, and while the Rams have rebuilt smartly, they're not at the elite level of teams like San Francisco or Detroit. What makes the Vikings game tougher is the respect for coordinator Brian Flores' defensive schemes. Facing a complex array of blitzes in a noisy dome with a fired-up Monday night crowd will put immense pressure on Williams, who tends to hold the ball too long.
The season finale at Green Bay Packers could be crucial for the Bears
Every game against the Packers is significant, but the season finale on January 4/5 could be especially important. Depending on the season's progression, it could either be a pivotal game for playoff positions or just a matter of rivalry pride. This will be Williams' first trip to Green Bay, a challenging environment known for its intense rivalry. The Packers might be the second-best team in the division, but their performance last season, where they went from 6-8 to making the playoffs, leaves questions. They managed to beat the Cowboys but had losses to weaker teams like the Giants and Tampa Bay. Despite their recent success, beating the Packers after a 10-game losing streak against them would be significant for the Bears.
The Bears' road game against the Houston Texans is a prime-time test
On September 15, the Bears face the Houston Texans in a challenging Sunday Night Football game. Houston, starved for prime-time exposure, will be eager to prove themselves. The Bears will have rookie QB Caleb Williams starting his second NFL game and first road game in a hostile environment. The Texans, with young QB C.J. Stroud and new weapon Stefon Diggs, will be a tough opponent. This early-season matchup will be a significant test for the Bears and their ability to handle prime-time pressure.
Thanksgiving Day clash with the Detroit Lions is a quick turnaround for the Bears
The Bears have a short preparation time for their November 28 game against the Detroit Lions, the defending division champions. The Lions struggled against the Bears' defense last year, but adjustments are expected. Jared Goff's poor decisions and the Lions' inability to stick to effective game plans were issues, but they're likely to improve. Despite the Lions' seven straight Thanksgiving losses, this game will be tough. The Bears have shown they can handle short notice games but playing early in the day adds another layer of difficulty.
The toughest challenge: facing the San Francisco 49ers in December
The December 8 game against the San Francisco 49ers is the Bears' most daunting task. Playing the defending NFC champions in San Francisco is never easy. While the Bears have won their last two games there, those wins came during the 49ers' rebuilding phase. Historically, the Bears have struggled in San Francisco, often losing in embarrassing fashion. This game falls in the middle of a crucial stretch of divisional games, making it even more challenging. The 49ers' strong offense, featuring Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle, poses significant threats to the Bears' Tampa-2 defense. The Bears' tendency to play with fewer men in the box and lean on five defensive backs can be exploited by teams with strong running games and physical players after the catch.
A favorable schedule with early opportunities for the Bears
While the Bears face tough opponents, their schedule overall is softer compared to many teams. The Bears have the third easiest schedule based on last year's opposing winning percentages. Early-season games against weaker teams like Tennessee, Washington, Carolina, New England, and Arizona provide opportunities for the Bears to gain momentum before facing tougher division rivals. Caleb Williams has the chance to acclimate to the NFL before diving into the more challenging part of the season.
Despite the favorable schedule, the Bears only have three prime-time games, compared to Detroit and Green Bay, each with five. The weak schedule is a result of finishing last in their division last year, a typical NFL parity mechanism. This provides the Bears with a unique opportunity to leverage their schedule and potentially contend for a playoff berth.
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MAY 17   |   82 ANSWERS
Ranking the toughest five games on the 2024 Bears schedule

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