Chicago Bears' difficult opening month includes defending NFC champs

The Bears' three wins last season were the franchise's fewest since strike-shortened season of 1982. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The NFL has released its 2017 regular-season schedule. Here’s a look at what’s in store for the Chicago Bears.

Breakdown: Desperate for a winning season following three consecutive last-place finishes in the NFC North, the Bears have a tough road in front of them. Chicago opens the year with four tough opponents – Atlanta, at Tampa, Pittsburgh and at Green Bay. While Chicago has the luxury of hosting San Francisco and Cleveland, those games are scheduled so late in the season that it may not matter. The Bears have three tricky matchups before their bye (at Baltimore, Carolina and at New Orleans) before hosting the Packers after the off week. The game at Philadelphia on Nov. 26 could be interesting if Alshon Jeffery is healthy enough to face his old team. Any way you slice it – the Bears have their work cut out for them.

Glennon's homecoming: The Week 2 matchup in Tampa is compelling because it pits new Bears quarterback Mike Glennon against the team that drafted him. The Bucs loved Glennon and offered to make him the league’s highest-paid backup. But Glennon wanted to start, and the Bears offered to pay him $16 million guaranteed in 2017. Glennon is still popular in Tampa. Many of the Bucs coaches continue to rave about him. Glennon should have a good idea how to beat Tampa’s defense, but, on paper, the Bucs appear to be the superior team.

Alshon's revenge?: The Bears made almost zero effort to re-sign Jeffery, who went to the Eagles on a one-year, incentive-laden contract. Jeffery took the high road out of town, and maintained he has no hard feeling toward the Bears. But who are we kidding? Jeffery – if healthy that week – will want to destroy his former club in Week 12. He signed with Philadelphia partly because of quarterback Carson Wentz, who looked terrific versus the Bears last season as a rookie. Depending on how the season plays out, Jeffery may eventually be in line for an extension, and wouldn’t it be ironic if the performance that puts him over the top comes at the expense of the Bears.

Strength of schedule: 19th, .479

Bears Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, Atlanta, 1 p.m.

  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

  • Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 28, at Green Bay, 8:25 p.m.

  • Week 5: Monday, Oct. 9, Minnesota, 8:30 p.m.

  • Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

  • Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, Carolina, 1 p.m.

  • Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29, at New Orleans, 1 p.m.

  • Week 9: BYE

  • Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, Green Bay, 1 p.m.

  • Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, Detroit, 1 p.m.

  • Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, San Francisco, 1 p.m.

  • Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

  • Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 16, at Detroit, 4:30 p.m.

  • Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24, Cleveland, 1 p.m.

  • Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.