Strength of schedule: Chicago Bears

The actual sequence of games, times and where the bye week falls provide perhaps the clearest indicator for gauging the difficulty of Chicago’s 2014 schedule.

The NFL won’t announce the schedule until sometime in April, but based on the Bears’ matchups for 2014, the club ranks No. 18 in overall strength of schedule with its opponents in 2013 registering a winning percentage of .496. On paper, Chicago’s schedule is the second-most-difficult in the division. The 2013 winning percentage for Green Bay’s opponents next season is .504 overall, while Detroit (.492) and Minnesota (.477) face easier schedules.

Chicago’s opponents at Soldier Field in 2014 include the Lions, Packers, Vikings, Saints, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Bills and Dolphins. The Bears and Lions drew the division’s easiest home schedules as their opponents finished 2013 with a win percentage of .453. In fact, the only teams in the NFL with easier home schedules than the Bears and Lions are the Colts, Jaguars and Titans.

The flipside, however, is the Bears drew the most difficult road schedule in the NFC North, as their opponents combined in 2013 for a .539 winning percentage. Chicago’s road schedule includes its divisional foes, in addition to Atlanta, Carolina, San Francisco, New England and the New York Jets.