Photo Getty

For the first time ever, the NFL and the Bears will play a 17-game regular season schedule. Photo Getty

The Chicago Bears' 2021 full season schedule was released by the NFL on Wednesday.

For the first time ever, the NFL and the Bears will play a 17-game regular season schedule.

Everything depends on where the bye week is and where the few “soft” spots in the slate might be. Not to mention the ongoing uncertainty around a certain quarterback up north. So it’s time. Let us take a look at the entire slate, provide some brief backdrops for every matchup and of course make a final prediction on how the season will play out.

Chicago Bears in 2021 NFL: Full Schedule

The Bears will play the Los Angeles Rams in a Sunday night game to start the season on September 12.

Week

Date

Opponent

Kickoff time

TV

1

Sept. 12

at L.A. Rams

8:20 p.m. ET

NBC

2

Sept. 19

vs. Bengals

1 p.m. ET

FOX

3

Sept. 26

at Browns

1 p.m. ET

FOX

4

Oct. 3

vs. Lions

1 p.m. ET

FOX

5

Oct. 10

at Raiders

4:05 p.m. ET

CBS

6

Oct. 17

vs. Packers

1 p.m. ET

FOX

7

Oct. 24

at Buccaneers

4:25 p.m. ET

CBS

8

Oct. 31

vs. 49ers

1 p.m. ET

FOX

9

Nov. 8

at Steelers

8:15 p.m. ET

ESPN

10

Nov. 14

Bye

11

Nov. 21

vs. Ravens

1 p.m. ET

CBS

12

Nov. 25

at Lions

12:30 p.m. ET

FOX

13

Dec. 5

vs. Cardinals

1 p.m. ET

FOX

14

Dec. 12

at Packers

8:20 p.m. ET

NBC

15

Dec. 20

vs. Vikings

8:15 p.m. ET

ESPN

16

Dec. 26

at Seahawks

4:05 p.m. ET

FOX

17

Jan. 2

vs. Giants

1 p.m. ET

CBS

18

Jan. 9

at Vikings

1 p.m. ET

FOX

Bears strength of schedule

Chicago's opponents had a .550 winning percentage last season, and that means the Bears have the third most difficult schedule by record. It is the toughest schedule among the NFC North teams, and the only teams with more difficult schedules by record are the Steelers and Ravens.

The Bears play seven playoff teams from last season, and that includes two games against rival Green Bay.

Chicago Bears in 2021 NFL:Predictions

Photo Da Windy City
Photo Da Windy City

Toughest tests: The road schedule is flat-out brutal with the exception of the Lions, which falls on Thanksgiving. The Vikings and Raiders were both 3-5 at home last season. The other six teams, all playoff teams, had a combined record of 40-11 at home, according to Sporting News.

Chicago has been a decent road team under Nagy with a 14-10 record the past three seasons, but it's going to be difficult to be better than .500 on the road in 2021. If the Bears can steal a few games on the road, then the rest of the schedule is set up for a possible run back to the NFC playoffs.

Biggest breaks: Soldier Field can be a tough environment for several reasons, including the weather and turf, and several young quarterbacks will be making their first start in that stadium. That includes Arizona's Kyler Murray, Baltimore's Lamar Jackson, Cincinnati's Joe Burrow, New York's Daniel Jones and possibly San Francisco's Trey Lance depending on whether he can take the starting job as a rookie. That is an advantage for the Bears. Murray and Jones have to come to Chicago in December, too.

The AFC North matchups also present a unique opportunity for Chicago given its track record against the other black-and-blue division. The Bears swept the AFC North in 2017 and 2013, and the potential for nasty weather in those games is a wash.

Chicago also has four games against three of the five worst teams in the NFL in the Lions, Giants and Bengals. The Bears need to sweep those games.

Bottom line: Chicago will be watching Aaron Rodgers' future with great interest, because the Packers have dominated the division the last pwo seasons. Rodgers is 21-5 against the Bears as a starter (including playoffs), and Nagy is 1-5 against the Packers.

Chicago is 10-2 against the Vikings and Lions in the same stretch, and those games will define whether the Bears can make a true run in the NFC North. Dalton might be the starter early on, but Chicago did not reach up for Fields to sit him for the entire season.

The Bears still have enough pieces on defense to put up a winning record, but that tough road schedule is going to be the issue. Look for Chicago to stay on the fringe of the NFC playoff discussion as a result, and the division could be tight because everyone has a tough schedule.

**READ MORE: 2021 NFL playoff schedule updates: Divisional round, Time, TV and Stream

Chicago Bears in 2021 NFL: Key Games

Photo Da Windy City
Photo Da Windy City
  1. Week 17 vs. Giants: New York is in somewhat of a similar position, looking to be a surprise contender with a good defense and young QB. In other words, this might be a good litmus test for how close Chicago is to competing, even with a rookie under center.
  2. Week 16 at Seahawks: This could easily be a candidate for toughest game of the year, not because Seattle has it all together but because going out West to face Russell Wilson is always a challenge.
  3. Week 14 at Packers: If Fields is in the lineup, what better way to welcome him to the NFL than with a trip to Lambeau? If, somehow, some way, he can stick with Green Bay, he'll have Windy City even more pumped than it is now.

Chicago Bears in 2021 NFL: Predictions

Week 1: at Los Angeles Rams (SNF)

For now, we can only take the Bears at their word that Andy Dalton will be the Week 1 starter. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford gets to join Sean McVay's offense, and it's not hard to give the Rams the edge there. Both teams will have new defensive coordinators and plenty of talent. Edge goes to Stafford and McVay, even though Sofi Stadium should be full of Bears fans.

PREDICTION: Loss

RECORD:0-1

Week 2: Cincinnati Bengals

Andy Dalton played well against his former team when he went to Cincinnati last year, although Joe Burrow should be on the field this time. Still, the Bengals aren't a good football team, and their offensive line should struggle against the Bears' front-seven.

PREDICTION: Win

RECORD:1-1

Week 3: at Cleveland Browns

It's time to give the Browns some respect. They are well coached and should have an improved defense this year. A tougher schedule tells me they won't go 6-2 at home again in 2021 (or 7-2 with the extra home game), but this will be a difficult road test for the Bears. Andy Dalton is 12-5 against the Browns in his career, but those wins didn't come against these Browns. A tough loss here will put the pressure on to turn to Fields.

PREDICTION: LOSS

RECORD: 1-2

Week 4: Detroit Lions

Matt Nagy is 5-1 against the Lions, with the only loss coming when the Bears blew a 10-point lead in the final minutes at Soldier Field last year. The Lions are trying to remake their roster under a new regime, and it will take a little bit of time. Bears are the better team.

PREDICTION: WIN

RECORD: 2-2

Week 5: at Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders should be competitive this year and will likely float around playoff contention, which makes this a tough road game. Then again, it wouldn't be surprising to see Allegiant Stadium 75 percent full of Bears fans. Khalil Mack was quiet in his first game against his former team in 2019. I don't think he'll let that happen again. Bears win.

PREDICTION: WIN

RECORD: 3-2

Week 6 vs. Green Bay Packers

These games are going to be insanely difficult to predict because of one reason. Will Aaron Rodgers play? If he does, then the Bears’ odds of claiming a win will drop significantly. Yet based on the latest information it doesn’t sound like he is anxious to return. Presuming this holds, then Chicago will be facing Jordan Love instead. Considering the lukewarm buzz around him since the Packers drafted him, this could be a prime opportunity for the Bears to claim some long-overdue vengeance on their longtime rivals. Result: Win

Week 7 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady never forgets. Keep this in mind. He’ll have a sharp memory of what happened last year in Chicago when the Bears stole a win from him. Now he’ll get them at home in Tampa Bay facing a defense that isn’t quite as good as it was last year. This has the look of a game that could get out of hand early unless the defense is up to the challenge and can give the offense enough time to weather the early assault by that aggressive Bucs defense. Result: Loss

Week 8 vs. San Francisco 49ers

So which 49ers team is going to show up this year? The one that went to the Super Bowl in 2019 or the one that limped to 6-10 this past season? A lot of that depends on health. Several of their key players are coming back from major injuries. They also have a QB situation to sort out. Will their defense be the same without Robert Saleh at the helm? This doesn’t feel like a team that should be feared. With the Bears having homefield, they can take this one. Result: Win

Week 9 at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers went 12-4 last year. So that makes them a tough opponent. How tough though? One must not forget they finished 2020 with a 1-5 slide including their shocking playoff defeat against Cleveland. It felt like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger really began to show signs of his age. Still, they have a talented roster around him and a top 5 defense. This has all the trappings of a classic blue collar slugfest. Result: Win

Week 10 – BYE

Week 11 – vs. Baltimore Ravens

This could be a pivot point of the Chicago Bears 2021 schedule. Playing against Lamar Jackson is always a chore. His speed is at a level most defenses aren’t capable of containing. Baltimore also wisely spent their offseason improving his arsenal of weapons including 1st round pick Rashod Bateman. Is the Bears defense up to the task of trying to contain him? Getting Eddie Goldman back to help stop the run will be critical but this has the look of a game where Jackson will run them out of gas late. Result: Loss

Week 12 at Detroit Lions

Bears-Lions on Thanksgiving is becoming an annual tradition at this point. The NFL just loves scheduling it. Probably because the games always seem to produce something wacky. Chicago has owned them at Ford Field the past three years, beating them in thrilling fashion every time. Divisional games are always unpredictable though. Things happen. If the Bears play up to their ability and aren’t ravaged by injuries? This game should be theirs for a season sweep. Result: Win

Week 13: Arizona Cardinals

After back-to-back tough losses, Justin Fields gets exactly what he needs: the Cardinals' defense. Like last year, J.J. Watt will enjoy his trip to Portillo's but not the game at Soldier Field.

PREDICTION: WIN

RECORD: 6-6

Week 14: at Green Bay Packers (SNF)

The Bears host the Vikings in primetime for the fifth time in six seasons, and they are 2-2 in those games. Last year, Kirk Cousins finally won a game on Monday Night Football, but that's when the Bears' offense was at its worst with Nick Foles. Bears win this time around.

PREDICTION: WIN

RECORD: 7-7

Week 16 at Seattle Seahawks

Failing to land Russell Wilson was a hot topic for almost a month this offseason. Something the Bears probably didn’t expect to be a thing. So naturally, they get to play against him instead. That team is always a tough opponent with him under center and should have crowd noise back on their side in that unforgiving stadium up in Seattle. Much of this will depend on if the pass rush can keep Wilson uncomfortable and the offense can score points. Consider this one of those tough losses they’ll likely endure. Result: Loss

Week 17 vs. New York Giants

Want to talk about a regime that is under a ton of pressure to win in 2021? Look at the Giants. Daniel Jones enters the pivotal third year of his development in New York and is coming off a rough finish to last season. He’ll have a lot more weaponry this time thanks to the arrivals of Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. This could prove to be a tougher game than people think. In the end, the Bears find a way at home. Result: Win

Week 18 at Minnesota Vikings

According to sportsmockery, The Chicago Bears 2021 schedule concludes in the same way several others have. Historically the Vikings have often frustrated the Bears in Minnesota. The two sides have traded wins there the past couple of years. So going back trends? This one looks like it’ll be set up for the Vikings to prevail. They’ll most likely be scrambling for a playoff spot and desperate to avenge their home loss to Chicago last year that ended their 2020 season. Such is how this rivalry always seems to go. Result: Loss

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