Tuesday, January 25, 2022

NFL Schedule Makers Owe Chicago Bears Fans An Apology

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It was an all-around ugly day for the Chicago Bears this last Sunday as they lost to the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 33-22. On a cold and rainy day that featured four interceptions from quarterback Andy Dalton, the Bears were all but eliminated from playoff contention. Chicago will now prep for a Sunday Night Football showdown against the rival Green Bay Packers in a game that does not deserve to be in front of a national audience in primetime.



NFL Flex Scheduling Was Created To Avoid Uncompetitive Games In December

The four-win Bears will travel to Green Bay to play the Packers, who are a 13-point favorite heading into Sunday night’s game. Although Green Bay will be playing for the top seed in the NFC Playoffs, the Bears will be playing solely for pride. Outside of showcasing future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, there is little reason why this game deserves to be in primetime. Since Rodgers became the Packers’ starting quarterback in 2008, he has compiled a 21-5 record against the Bears. Of the 21 victories, 13 of those victories have been by eight points or more.

When the NFL instituted Flexible Scheduling in 2006, the rule change was enacted to allow more competitive late-season NFL games to replace less competitive games that may have been initially scheduled for primetime. The goal of flex-scheduling was to ensure that NFL fans were getting a chance to see the best games possible. In the inaugural season of flex scheduling, the 2006 Bears had two of their games flexed to Sunday Night, including the season finale against the Packers on New Year’s Eve. Since 2006, the league continues to move multiple games in and out of the Sunday Night Football timeslot every year to provide fans across the country with the best matchup possible.

The upcoming Bears-Packers game will fall short of the competitive game threshold as there are more competitive matchups scheduled for earlier in the day. Although Fox and CBS can protect one game each, the 49ers-Bengals game is unprotected and would have made for a more compelling NFL game on Sunday night. Not only are the Bears overmatched heading into their game against the Packers, but their offense also isn’t good enough to keep viewers interested if the game becomes a blowout.

Furthermore, the Bears and Packers playing in Green Bay on primetime has become an overexposed recurrence. Since 2006, the Bears have only played three games in Green Bay that were not played in primetime. Two of those three games came before 2010, while each Bears-Packers game since has been featured in primetime except for the 2019 game. Since 2010, Chicago has played either a Sunday night game, Monday night, or Thursday night, including Thanksgiving Night and Christmas Night.

The Bears Have Been Humiliated By The Packers Too Many Times On Sunday Night

Another reason why the Bears and Packers game should not be on Sunday night is that the games have been too one-sided. The Bears have not won in Green Bay since Thanksgiving Night in 2015 when they defeated the Packers 17-13. The Packers currently hold a five-game winning streak at Lambeau over the Bears, and three of those victories have been by 16 points or more. The most humiliating loss at Lambeau for the Bears came in 2014 when they lost 55-14 to the Packers. The blowout loss featured a six-touchdown performance by Rodgers in the first half.

Even the two losses came in a heartbreakingly embarrassing fashion for the Bears and their fans. In 2018, Rodgers led a 20-point second-half comeback against Chicago, which resulted in the Packers winning 24-23. A year later, the Bears nearly had a chance to tie the Packers and force overtime on the final play of the game but failed to do so, leading to the 21-13 final.

Since the two teams’ first meeting this year back in week 6, the Bears’ season has gone completely downhill. Chicago is currently 1-6 in their last seven games as injuries have depleted the roster, while head coach Matt Nagy’s job continues to be in severe jeopardy. The Bears are in no condition to be taking on one of the league’s best teams in the Packers in primetime.

Sunday night’s Bears-Packers game could be over early given Rodger’s current stellar play mixed with the injuries on Chicago’s defense. Another humiliating loss would join one of many that Chicago has suffered in front of a national audience against Green Bay. Unlike in prior seasons, the NFL schedule makers had a chance to flex this game out of Sunday night but chose to keep the game as scheduled. The decision is a cruel one to the Bears and their fans.

 

Steve Pusch
Eastern Illinois University graduate, Steve earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism with a concentration in sports. While at EIU, Steve co-hosted a weekly radio sports talk show focused on Chicago.

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