Bears 2013 Schedule & the Impossbility of Prediction

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The NFL announced the 2013 schedule on Thursday evening, and while we’ve known the teams the Bears will play since last season’s end, we didn’t know the order until now.  Here’s the Bears schedule for the upcoming NFL season:

Week 1 – Sept 08 – 1:00pm ET – Cincinnati Bengals
Week 2 – Sept 15 – 1:00pm ET – Minnesota Vikings
Week 3 – Sept 22 – 8:30pm ET – @Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 4 – Sept 29 – 1:00pm ET – @Detroit Lions
Week 5 – Oct 06 – 1:00pm ET – New Orleans Saints
Week 6 – Oct 10 – 8:25pm ET – New York Giants
Week 7 – Oct 20 – 1:00pm ET – @Washington Redskins
Week 8 – BYE WEEK
Week 9 – Nov 04 – 8:40pm ET – @Green Bay Packers
Week 10 – Nov 10 – 1:00pm ET – Detroit Lions
Week 11 – Nov 17 – 1:00pm ET – Baltimore Ravens
Week 12 – Nov 24 – 1:00pm ET – @St. Louis Rams
Week 13 – Dec 01 – 1:00pm ET – @Minnesota Vikings
Week 14 – Dec 09 – 8:40pm ET – Dallas Cowboys
Week 15 – Dec 15 – 1:00pm ET – @Cleveland Browns
Week 16 – Dec 22 – 1:00pm ET – @Philadelphia Eagles
Week 17 – Dec 29 – 1:00pm ET – Green Bay Packers

Sunday Early starts:  12
Sunday Afternoon ET starts:  0 (meaning Bears are not eligible to be flexed to Sunday Night)
Sunday Night Football:  1
Monday Night Football:  2
Thursday Night Football: 1

Home & Away as always against division rivals Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, & Minnesota Vikings, with home/away splits with the NFC East (home vs Dallas Cowboys & New York Giants, away vs Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins), the AFC North (home vs Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, away vs Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers), and those who in 2012 finished similarly (3rd) from the NFC South and NFC West (home vs New Orleans Saints, away vs St. Louis Rams).

Games that immediately jump out at us – Bears open the season against an AFC team, the Bengals, at Soldier Field.  Sunday Night week 3 at Pittsburgh.  Thursday Night week 6 at home against the Giants.  Monday Night week 9, after a BYE, against the Packers in Lambeau.  Monday Night week 14 at home against Cowboys.  Of course, December 29, final game of the season, at home against Packers.

Interesting home & away schedule… Bears are perfectly 2 home, 2 away back and forth all the way to week 13, and maintain 2 home games and 2 away for every four games played.

Let’s take a look at all of the opponents for 2013:

NFC North opponents:
Green Bay Packers (11-5) – Lost to the 49ers in the Divisional Round
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) – Lost to the Packers in the Wild-Card Round
Detroit Lions (4-12)

The Packers are still the most dangerous team in the division, as much as Bears fans we don’t want to admit it, and will remain that way due to their high powered offense led by Aaron Rodgers and their ability to constantly stockpile depth at wide receiver.  Their running game has been lack luster for a couple seasons now, but has anyone really noticed?  Their defense has its ups and downs, but when your offense can and does routinely win shootouts your defense can miss some tackles.

The Vikings will be an enigma with their strong running game led by Adrian Peterson but their questionable passing game with the departure of Percy Harvin and they still have doubts about Christian Ponder being the answer at QB.  The defense is still led by Jared Allen, but at age 31, he might be entering the decline of his career.  They also lost cornerback Antoine Windfield to Seattle.

The Lions – oh boy, the Lions.  Matthew Stafford needs to stay on the field and they need someone else to throw to other than Calvin Johnson, and the addition of Reggie Bush still leaves pause when trying to consider their running game a factor.  The defense underperformed last year, starting up front with Ndamukong Suh, so we’ll see if they can bounce back.

NFC East opponents:
Washington Redskins (10-6) – lost to Seattle in Wild-card round
New York Giants (9-7)
Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)

The Redskins fate will be determined by the return and effectiveness of Robert Griffin III, though Kirk Cousins looks to be a capable QB2 should he need to make some starts.  The Giants, led by Eli Manning and their defensive line, are always a plucky team that plays to their level of competition.  The Cowboys are perennial underachievers and it still remains to be seen, with a huge new contract, if Romo can live up to the expectations.  The Eagles tremendously imploded last year and have all the markings of a team in rebuilding this season.

AFC North opponents:
Baltimore Ravens (10-6) – Super Bowl champions
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) – lost to the Texans in the Wild-Card round
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Cleveland Browns (5-11)

The Ravens, the defending champs, are tough every year, and coming off the swagger of winning the Super Bowl they’ll be a true test of the Bears competitive level.  The Bengals Andy Dalton, if he can eliminate some of his miscues, can lead them back into the post season again.  The Steelers are a team with some serious needs and their hold as a super power in the AFC seems to be slipping away.  The Browns, well, they’re the Browns – we’ll need to see them compete before taking them seriously.

NFC 3rd Seed opponents:
New Orleans Saints (7-9)
St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)

The Saints suffered last year without Sean Payton leading the team, but with Drew Brees and all those offensive weapons they’ll stay in games with their ability to simply out gun you.  The Rams look to be on the upswing, but they’re in the same division with the 49ers and the Seahawks, so their division schedule alone might sink them out of contention.

Predicting 2013 for the Bears:

There is a lot still to happen before we get a real look at what the Bears will be in 2013, starting with the upcoming draft.  A new offense, a new coaching staff – there are a lot of variables for this year.  One of the most difficult things in predicting how the Bears might do is that we’re not really sure yet what they’ll be capable of, how Jay Cutler will perform with his 4th new offense in 5 years, how the defense will perform without Brian Urlacher setting the tone and making the adjustments.  That being said, the Bears were 10-6 last year, just like playoff teams the Vikings, Redskins, Bengals and champion Ravens, so its not like the team is starting from a place of severe deficit.

There are certainly no gimmies on this schedule, and while the Browns and Eagles had tough years last year, we’ll still have to stop them on Sunday.  As useless as predicting is at this point in the season, we’ll take our best early shot, fully admitting this means absolutely nothing:

Week 1 – Cincinnati Bengals – win at home to open
Week 2 – Minnesota Vikings – win as we take away AP
Week 3 – @Pittsburgh Steelers – win as Roethlisberger has broken/strained/pulled something already
Week 4 – @Detroit Lions – loss, as Tillman falls down and leaves Megatron open at a crucial moment
Week 5 – New Orleans Saints – loss, the Saints are back in form offensively
Week 6 – New York Giants – loss, the Giants front four remind us our O-line isn’t perfect
Week 7 – @Washington Redskins – win, RG3 is effective but contained
Week 8 – BYE WEEK
Week 9 – @Green Bay Packers – loss, sigh.
Week 10 – Detroit Lions – win, Tillman avenges week 4 at home
Week 11 – Baltimore Ravens – loss, the defending champs are too much
Week 12 – @St. Louis Rams – win, we force Bradford to give the game away
Week 13 – @Minnesota Vikings – loss, AP wins this one by himself
Week 14 – Dallas Cowboys – win, Romo blunders
Week 15 – @Cleveland Browns – win, as the Browns are on their 4th QB of the season
Week 16 – @Philadelphia Eagles – win, as Michael Vick isn’t trying anymore
Week 17 – Green Bay Packers – loss, because the Packers are jerks

9-7.  Too harsh?  Realistic?  Too much credit to the Lions, Vikings, Giants and/or Saints?  Will the Packers sweep us once again?  Let’s hear your thoughts on the schedule and how you think the Bears might do this season.

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