Bears’ 2020 schedule: Breaking down every regular-season game

The Bears will face some of the most compelling teams in the NFL — notably Tom Brady and the Buccaneers — as they try to climb back to the playoffs after an 8-8 disappointment in 2019.

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Tom Brady arrives for a prime-time game in Week 5.

AP Photos

The NFL is the first major sports league to announce firm dates for resuming games after releasing its 2020 schedule Thursday. The Bears will open Sept. 13 at the Lions and host huge games against the Buccaneers (Week 5), Saints (Week 8) and Texans (Week 14).

That’s the plan, at least.

“In preparing to play the season as scheduled, we will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary.”

That could mean, for example, rescheduling some of the early-season games for January and delaying the Super Bowl. The NFL scheduled 15 division matchups in the first two weeks.

The Bears’ 2020 opponents had a combined .508 winning percentage last season, giving the team the 13th-toughest schedule on paper. Here’s a look at every game:

Week 1

Sept. 13 at Lions, 12 p.m. (FOX): This is a perfect opener for the Bears, who need a little bit of cushion to get things rolling. It’ll be the complete opposite of their opener last year, which was a Super Bowl-like production as the NFL kicked off its 100th season with the Bears and Packers. That loss hit hard, especially on offense, and the Bears never seemed to recover from it.

Week 2

Sept. 20 vs. Giants, 12 p.m. (CBS): Regardless of their recent struggles, this remains a classic matchup. It will be the 61st time the Bears have faced the Giants, making them the team’s seventh-most common opponent in a century of football.

Week 3

Sept. 27 at Falcons, 12 p.m. (FOX): The Bears will make their first trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which cost $1.5 billion to build and opened in 2017. The Bears and Falcons haven’t played in Atlanta since 2014. Only two Bears who appeared in that game have a chance to do so again in 2020: cornerback Kyle Fuller and punter Pat O’Donnell.

Week 4

Oct. 4 vs. Colts, 12 p.m. (CBS): The last time the Bears played the Colts —in the preseason last year — Andrew Luck pulled a surprise retirement a half-hour after the final gun. His replacement, former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, will return to Soldier Field, where he beat the Bears last year.

Week 5

Oct. 8 vs. Buccaneers, 7:20 p.m. (NFLN/FOX/Amazon): The last time the Bears hosted Tampa Bay, Mitch Trubisky threw six touchdowns and the Bears won by 38. This time around, no lesser than Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski — former Patriots who fled to the Buccaneers this offseason —will look to do the same to the Bears on “Thursday Night Football.”

Week 6

Oct. 18 at Panthers, 12 p.m. (FOX): The Panthers will look almost recognizable this season after linebacker Luke Kuechly retired, quarterback Cam Newton was released and head coach Ron Rivera was fired. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and new head coach Matt Rhule, the former Baylor boss, have taken over.

Week 7

Oct. 26 at Rams, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN): This has developed into a mini-rivalry, and the Bears and Rams will meet for the third consecutive season. They have followed nearly identical trajectories lately and both enter the season desperate to reestablish themselves as contenders. The Bears will also be one of the first visitors to SoFi Stadium, which opens this season in Inglewood, Calif.

Week 8

Nov. 1 vs. Saints, 3:25 p.m. (FOX): The Bears have played the Saints five times since 2011 — and lost all five by an average of 12 points per game. This figures to be quarterback Drew Brees’ final game at Soldier Field; he missed last year’s victory with a hurt right thumb, but was replaced ably by Bridgewater.

Week 9

Nov. 8 at Titans, 12 p.m. (FOX): When the Bears traveled to Nashville in 2012 their fans drank the city dry— by Monday morning, reports had surfaced of bars running out of certain kinds of beer. That won’t happen again — Titans fans have a better team to cling to and fan travel figures to be somewhat limited, at best.

Week 10

Nov. 16 vs. Vikings, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN): The Vikings must laugh when they hear debates about whether the Bears or Packers will capture the NFC North in a given season. Since 2015, Minnesota owns the fifth-best record in the league (50-29-1) and has three playoff appearances. That said, the Bears have swept the Vikings each of the last two seasons.

Week 12

Nov. 29 at Packers, 7:20 p.m. (NBC): This is the only Sunday Night Football appearance for the Bears this season, and it’s no surprise NBC jumped on the most storied rivalry in football. This could be an enormous game in the division if the Bears get rolling over the first two months.

Week 13

Dec. 6 vs. Lions, 12 p.m. (FOX): The Bears might get a showdown with former backup quarterback Chase Daniel by this point in the season. There’s no telling how long Lions starter Matt Stafford will last coming off a major back injury. The Bears will also see another former player in defensive tackle Nick Williams.

Week 14

Dec. 13 vs. Texans, 12 p.m. (CBS): Patrick Mahomes got his revenge on Ryan Pace last year, counting to 10 — the spot where he was drafted in 2017 — after throwing a touchdown at Soldier Field. Now it’s Deshaun Watson’s turn to make his Soldier Field debut; the Texans drafted him 12thafter the Bears traded up to draft Trubisky second overall.

Week 15

Dec. 20 at Vikings, 12 p.m. (FOX): This is one of five NFC North games for the Bears in the final seven games, and it’s probably preferable for them to have that at the end of the season rather than the beginning. The Bears enter 2020 with a four-game winning streak against the Vikings, including two victories in Minnesota.

Week 16

Dec. 27 at Jaguars, 12 p.m. (FOX): The Nick Foles revenge game? The Jaguars were happy to turn the team over to Gardner Minshew and escape further Foles financial obligation when they traded him to the Bears for a fourth-round pick. The question is: will Foles be the Bears’ starting quarterback?

Week 17

Jan. 3 vs. Packers, 12 p.m. (FOX): Could this be Jordan Love’s Chicago debut? If the Packers’ postseason seeding is solidified, or if they’re eliminated, it would be the perfect time for them to play Love and let him get a taste of the rivalry.

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