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Schedule Gives Chicago Hope

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The Bears hope they can take advantage of a weak schedule and get back to the playoffs. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images.
The Bears hope they can take advantage of a weak schedule and get back to the playoffs. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images.

If the Chicago Bears advance to the postseason for the first time in three years next season, then the least they can do is send the schedule-makers a thank-you note.

The NFL announced the dates and times of regular season games on Thursday, and the Bears won't be heard to complain. Not only do they have a manageable agenda based on strength of schedule – their opponents had a combined 128-127-1 record last season – but have what appear to be their most difficult games at home. The Green Bay Packers (11-5) are the only opponent who won more than 10 games a year ago.

The bye week is conveniently located in Week 8, which will afford head coach Marc Trestman and his team a chance to regroup for the second half.

Of their first eight games, seven are against opponents that finished above .500 last season – the Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and Washington Redskins. Four of these games will be played at home.

If the Bears hold their own in the first nine weeks of the season, then they will be positioned well for the stretch drive. The second half includes dates with the the Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.

Trestman will make his debut in the regular season opener against the Bengals at Soldier Field.

The Bears will make four appearances on national television – against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football, the Giants on Thursday Night Football and the Packers and Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

The complete schedule (all times Eastern):

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, at Detroit, 1 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, New Orleans, 1 p.m.

Week 6: Thursday, Oct. 10, New York Giants, 8:25 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, at Washington, 1 p.m.

Week 8: bye.

Week 9: Monday, Nov. 4, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, Detroit, 1 p.m.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, at St. Louis, 1 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Monday, Dec. 9, Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Green Bay, 1 p.m.