Who knows what is to come from the NFL season? But there is a schedule now and here are my thoughts.
- Media members used to criticize the schedule release as an event with the tired mantra, “We already knew the opponents!” But the schedule release, for many fans, sets their travel agenda for the fall. And with road games in Atlanta, Charlotte, LA, Nashville and Jacksonville, you better believe Bears fans will be traversing the country if fans are allowed in these buildings this season.
- The Masters is scheduled for 11/12 – 11/15. And for some reason, I was gifted the Bears playing on Monday Night Football that week. I haven’t missed a Bears game since 2005. And I wouldn’t have missed the game that Sunday. But man, it would have been difficult to keep my eyes on a football game as the leaders made their way to the 12th tee box. (I’ll manage with the US Open at Winged Foot in September.)
- Things I love about this schedule:
- At Lions, home Giants to start. It’s hard to predict how good teams will be but neither of these teams is gonna be any good defensively. It’s a great opportunity for the offense to get off to a decent start.
- Week 11 bye. Teams aren’t going to need the bye early this year because there’s not going to be an intense preseason period. Having the bye in late-November should allow the Bears to rev up for the stretch run.
- At Jaguars, home Packers to finish. Jacksonville should be one of the worst teams in the league and the Bears seemingly finish on the road every single year; usually at Minnesota. Nice to finish at Soldier.
- The Texans coming to Chicago on 12/13. Warm weather, inside team coming to Chicago in mid-December should play in the Bears’ favor.
- Things I don’t love about this schedule:
- Why do the Bears always have a huge chunk of the season with no early Sunday games? The Bears play the Titans on 11/8 in the early Sunday slot. Their next early Sunday game is against the Lions on 12/6. That’s a month.
- Four primetime games is at least one too many. But you knew the Bears would have a Thursday night game and the NFL can’t resist playing Bears/Packers at night. Makes it hard for them to have fewer than three.
- The Saints coming to Chicago 11/1. You want Drew Brees in Chicago in late December. On 11/1, the temperature could be in the 60s.
Around the League.
- I was set to criticize the league for putting the Texans in the season opener but then I looked at the Chiefs schedule. Woah. They don’t have a single, difficult game in their building this season. Barring injuries, they’re winning 12 minimum. But why double down with the Texans on Thanksgiving? Are the Texans supposed to be that much of an attraction this season?
- The late afternoon game on Thanksgiving is one of the premiere scheduling decisions the league makes. So, of course, you put the Redskins in that slot, right? Not the Niners. Not the Eagles. Not even the intriguing Cardinals. The three games played that day should be the first scheduled by the league. Year-after-year they feel like afterthought match-ups.
- In the first five weeks of the season, the Packers are at Minnesota, New Orleans and Tom Brady. Tough start.
- Rumors circulated – mostly from John Clayton – that the league was going to open with the non-conference slate, allowing them to simply cut those games from the schedule should the start of the season be delayed. What this schedule and it’s high-profile Week One match-ups tell me is the NFL does not believe they’re delaying anything. Even if those early weeks are played in empty buildings, they’re going to be played.
I miss sports.