Some quick thoughts with the Bears releasing their 2016 schedule on Thursday night:
Week 1 at Texans
Sept. 11, Noon (FOX, WBBM-780)
Brock Osweiler, the Texans’ new $72 million quarterback, opens against a Bears defense he beat last year for the Broncos. They won’t face each other every snap, but J.J. Watt vs. Kyle Long will be a main event.
Week 2 vs. Eagles
Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN, WBBM-780)
Former coach Chip Kelly left the Eagles a complete mess. It could take years to undo the damage he did.
Week 3 at Cowboys
Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m. (NBC, WBBM-780)
If quarterback Tony Romo stays healthy, the Cowboys won’t be the hapless bunch they were last season. The Cowboys might be the best team in their division.
Week 4 vs. Lions
Oct. 2, Noon (FOX, WBBM-780)
If the Lions were a true contender, all-everything receiver Calvin Johnson wouldn’t have retired. He leaves a gaping hole on a team that has plenty.
Week 5 at Colts
Oct. 9, Noon (FOX, WBBM-780)
See the Cowboys’ note above, and replace “quarterback Tony Romo” with “quarterback Andrew Luck” and “the Cowboys” with “the Colts.”
Week 6 vs. Jaguars
Oct. 16, Noon (CBS, WBBM-780)
The Jaguars won’t be bad forever. (Or will they?) Quarterback Blake Bortles is poised for big things in his third season and he has plenty of weapons.
Week 7 at Packers
Oct. 20, 7:25 p.m. (CBS, NFL Network, WBBM-780)
Last year, the Bears gleefully danced with coach John Fox after ruining Brett Favre night and beating quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The feeling here is football’s best rivalry only intensifies under Fox. A primetime Thursday game helps.
Week 8 vs. Vikings
Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN, WBBM-780)
Happy Halloween on a Monday night. Coach Mike Zimmer quickly turned the Vikings into a playoff team. He’s why Minnesota’s defense will be formidable. But what about QB Teddy Bridgewater?
Week 9 bye week
Week 10 at Buccaneers
Nov. 13, Noon (FOX, WBBM-780)
With Lovie Smith gone, this matchup loses luster it previously had. QB Jameis Winston is expected to make huge strides in his second season, especially after offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter usurped Smith.
Week 11 at Giants
Nov. 20, Noon (FOX, WBBM-780)
What will the Giants be without coach Tom Coughlin, who was replaced by Ben McAdoo? Quarterback Eli Manning nearly came to tears over his departure. The Giants also had the league’s worst defense in 2015.
Week 12 vs. Titans
Nov. 27, Noon (CBS, WBBM-780)
The Titans still are in rebuild mode. Trading the first overall pick to the Rams is part of that. But expectations will change if quarterback Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick last year, excels.
Week 13 vs. 49ers
Dec. 4, Noon (FOX, WBBM-780)
Speaking of Kelly, he found a home in San Francisco. He doesn’t have as nearly as much control as did in Philadelphia. But he has quarterback situation to figure out. (Is Colin Kaepernick part of the Broncos yet?)
Week 14 at Lions
Dec. 11, Noon (FOX, WBBM-780)
Lions coach Jim Caldwell could be on his way to earning new general manager Bob Quinn’s confidence … or he could be fired by this time.
Week 15 vs. Packers
Dec. 18, Noon (FOX, WBBM-780)
If the Bears improve as Fox believes they will, simply describing this game as meaningful won’t be enough.
Week 16 vs. Redskins
Dec. 24, Noon (FOX, WBBM-780)
It’s Christmas Eve and a Saturday game. Will Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins be on the nice or naughty list? His next contract depends on it.
Week 17 at Vikings
Jan. 1, Noon (FOX, WBBM-780)
Happy New Year! Should this old season be forgotten, and never brought to mind? Time will tell.