The NFL will release its 2022 schedule on Thursday night as several marquee games for the upcoming season have already been released over the past few weeks. There is little excitement for the Chicago Bears‘ 2022 schedule as the team is expected to be in a rebuild during the 2022 campaign with first-year head coach Matt Eberflus. Despite the decreased expectations, the scheduling arrangements for a few games could shock Bears fans, which could lead to unexpected anticipation.
Bears Could Open The 2022 Season At Home Against A Familiar Face
There is a good chance that the Bears will open their 2022 season at home at Soldier Field, with their opponent being the Houston Texans. The matchup would be perfect to start the season as Texans’ head coach Lovie Smith would make his second appearance coaching against the Bears in Chicago since being fired by the organization in 2012. In Smith’s eight as head coach for Chicago, he led the Bears to three playoff appearances, two NFC Championship games, and a Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl 41.
And now 10 NFL teams changed coaches this offseason:
Bears: Matt Eberflus
Broncos: Nathaniel Hackett
Bucs: Todd Bowles
Dolphins: Mike McDaniel
Giants: Brian Daboll
Jaguars: Doug Pederson
Raiders: Josh McDaniels
Saints: Dennis Allen
Texans: Lovie Smith
Vikings: Kevin O’Connell
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 31, 2022
The Week 1 meeting between the Bears and Texans would feature two head coaches making their head coaching debuts with their respective teams and that have an extensive background with the Cover-2 defense. Houston and Chicago are expected to be two of the worst teams in the NFL in 2022, but having them play each other to start the season allows one team to start their year off on a winning note.
Bears Could Be Busy During The Holiday Season
The 2022 NFL season will feature games on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The league has already announced plans to play three games on Christmas, with a late-afternoon game featuring the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Rams already announced for the day on Tuesday morning. Although the Bears could be out of playoff contention by mid-November, there is still excitement surrounding second-year quarterback Justin Fields that could enable the NFL to schedule Chicago for both Thanksgiving and Christmas due to several circumstances.
On Thanksgiving, the NFL will be going up against World Cup Soccer games in the early part of the day. With the Lions expected to host an AFC opponent while there are World Cup games taking place, the NFL could look to schedule the Bears to play the Cowboys for the traditional late-afternoon game to recover any potential ratings loss. The Bears traditionally draw a significant amount of viewers when playing on national television, regardless of record, and a matchup between quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Fields would be extremely intriguing.
It looks like the NFL is going to try and take over Christmas this year: The league is planning a December 25 tripleheader for the first time ever.
— John Breech (@johnbreech) April 22, 2022
A month later, the NFL could try to capitalize on Fields’ popularity once again and schedule the Bears for the early game of their Christmas Day triple-header. Due to only one quarterback prospect being selected in the first round of this year’s draft, the league has multiple options in scheduling games featuring quarterbacks drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Look for the Bears game against the Patriots in New England to be scheduled on Christmas as it would have Fields facing off against fellow first-round quarterback Mac Jones. The Patriots should still be in playoff contention by the Week 16 game, while the Super Bowl history between the two teams should provide enough attraction to overshadow a potential poor record by the Bears.
Bears Will See A Significant Reduction In Prime Time Appearances
The likelihood of the Bears being a bad team in 2022 and lacking an exciting roster of players will lead to fewer prime-time nationally televised games. Since 2018, the Bears have had four or more nationally televised prime-time games every season. In 2022, look for that not to fall off extensively, as the franchise will likely be scheduled to play only one prime-time game. Although there is national interest for Fields, with Chicago likely being an uncompetitive team this year, the league and networks will attempt to avoid lopsided games to protect viewer ratings.
Aaron Rodgers on playing the Bears again after the "I own you" incident:
"I don't know that you can question a whole lot of what I said … I have no regrets for saying what I said."
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) December 8, 2021
The Bears’ lone prime time game of the 2022 season will likely be at home against a team that appeared in the playoffs last season, including the Green Bay Packers or San Francisco 49ers. Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers playing in Chicago following the “I own you” comments made last season would make for a quality prime time game, while the 49ers and Bears’ historic semi-rivalry would entice fans of both teams across the country.