Bears avoid Germany trip, will face Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium instead

The Chiefs will host a game in Frankfurt, and the possible opponents were the Bears, Lions and Dolphins. The NFL announced the Dolphins’ selection Wednesday.

SHARE Bears avoid Germany trip, will face Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium instead
Justin Fields and Matt Nagy won’t hold their next reunion in Germany.

Justin Fields and Matt Nagy won’t hold their next reunion in Germany.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The Bears, who have enough challenges already as they try to get back on track in 2023, avoided a major interruption to their routine when the NFL spared them from playing an international game.

They were one of three likely opponents for the defending champion Chiefs’ game in Frankfurt, Germany, in November, and the league announced Wednesday it’ll be the Dolphins instead of the Bears or Lions.

That game will be Week 9 at Frankfurt Stadium, followed by Patriots-Colts at that venue the next week. The NFL also announced three London games: Falcons-Jaguars in Week 4, Jaguars-Bills in Week 5 and Ravens-Titans in Week 6.

Rather than go to Germany for the first time, the Bears will make only their seventh visit to Arrowhead Stadium. Their last game there was in 2015, when they won 18-17 in the final seconds on a touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Matt Forte.

The NFL also released a few other games and will reveal its full schedule Thursday.

The Bears were a strong candidate to go to Germany based on the Chiefs’ opponents for the season, which are set automatically based on a rotation and where teams finish in their divisions the previous season.

There was never any chance of the NFL slotting a divisional opponent or one of the marquee matchups against teams such as the Eagles, Bengals or Bills, and NBC reported the Chiefs exercised their option to block the league from moving their game against the Bears overseas.

One obvious reason the Chiefs would prefer to host the Bears at Arrowhead: Bears fans are known for strong showings on the road, and the Kansas City area would want the economic boost from their travel.

The Bears last played internationally in 2019, when the Raiders hosted them in London. They’ve never had to give up a home game to play in Europe, as their only other regular-season trip was as visitors against the Buccaneers in London in 2011. In 1986, they beat the Cowboys 17-6 at Wembley Stadium, but that was a preseason game.

The Bears would be an obvious candidate to host an overseas game in 2024 or ’26 as they progress toward leaving Soldier Field for a new stadium in Arlington Heights. NFC teams will have nine home games those seasons.

But Bears chairman George McCaskey is on the NFL’s committee for international games and said a team’s stadium status is not necessarily a factor in whether it gets picked to give up a home game. When asked in March when the Bears’ next international game would be, McCaskey said he didn’t know.

Regardless of being spared the Germany trip, the Bears face a tougher travel schedule than last season. They’re on rotation to play nine road games this season, and last season they played all their games in the Central and Eastern time zones.

In addition to their six divisional games, the Bears will play the entire NFC South and AFC West like they did in 2019. From the AFC West, they’ll host the Broncos and Raiders and visit the Chiefs and Chargers. Their NFC South schedule has home games against the Panthers and Falcons and trips to face the Saints and Buccaneers. The Bears traded the No. 1 overall draft pick to the Panthers, and they selected Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.

Their remaining three games are slotted according to where they finished in the division. With the Bears going 3-14 and landing in last place, they’ll host the Cardinals and visit the Commanders and Browns.

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