The Athlon staff breaks down each and every schedule for the 2012 NFL season.
Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.
Chicago Bears 2012 Schedule:
Week 1: Indianapolis
Week 2: at Green Bay (Thurs.)
Week 3: St. Louis
Week 4: at Dallas (Mon.)
Week 5: at Jacksonville
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Detroit (Mon.)
Week 8: Carolina
Week 9: at Tennessee
Week 10: Houston
Week 11: at San Francisco (Mon.)
Week 12: Minnesota
Week 13: Seattle
Week 14: at Minnesota
Week 15: Green Bay
Week 16: at Arizona
Week 17: at Detroit
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- Chicago will open its 2012 season by helping break in Indianapolis rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, gets the privilege of making his NFL debut against Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and co. on their home turf. Good (ahem) luck.
- After going against Luck, it's the Bears' defense that may need some of its own as Week 2 has them in Green Bay trying to slow down the rival Packers and reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is 6-2 in his career against the Bears as the Packers have won the last three meetings between these two long-time foes.
- Chicago gets the AFC South and NFC West as its cross-divisional opponents in 2012. While Houston and San Francisco, who won their respective divisions in 2011, are bona fide contenders once again this season, the rest of the teams are either on the rise or rebuilding. The Bears should be able to capitalize on this part of their schedule.
- The Bears' two floating games — at Dallas and versus Carolina — offer two intriguing match ups. Both the Cowboys and Panthers feature quarterback-driven offenses, though the teams' respective signal-callers — Tony Romo and Cam Newton — attack defenses differently. The Monsters of the Midway will likely employ different strategies to try and slow down each offense, but regardless, the defense will need to be at the top of its game if it wishes to be successful in doing so.
- Chicago plays the first of its three Monday night games in Week 4 as it travels to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. The Bears also host the Lions in Week 7 and are on the road against the 49ers in Week 11 for their other Monday night dates.
- The Bears go on bye in Week 6, meaning they will play 11 straight games following it. Although early, the bye comes at a good time as it gives the Bears a week to prepare for what appears to be the toughest stretch of their schedule. Following the bye, Chicago faces off with Detroit on Monday night in what will probably be a pivotal NFC North game then host Carolina. A road trip to Tennessee to take on the Titans in Week 9 precedes a difficult back-to-back offering of Houston (home) and a trip out west to San Francisco. This five-week span will go a long ways to determining how the Bears' 2012 season turns out.
- After playing just two NFC North games in its first six, Chicago will see plenty of its division rivals in the final six weeks of the season. The Bears play Minnesota twice in a span of three weeks starting in Week 12 and then end their regular season home against Green Bay and at Detroit, with a road game versus Arizona sandwiched in between. The final six weeks of the regular season will go a long ways in determining who wins the North and how many teams go on to the playoffs.
Fantasy Focus: Chicago wide receivers finished No. 22 in fantasy points scored in 2011, one reason why the Bears traded with Miami for Brandon Marshall and took South Carolina wideout Alshon Jeffery in the second round of this year's draft. Besides reuniting former Broncos' teammates Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears are hoping they have added some dependable and dangerous weapons to their passing attack. Cutler, who missed six games last season due to a thumb injury, averaged 16.5 fantasy points per game in 2011, which ranked him No. 16 among quarterbacks. If Cutler can re-establish the chemistry that he and Marshall had in Denver and Jeffery can assimilate himself to the pro game quickly, both, and possibly even Earl Bennett and Devin Hester, could become reliable fantasy producers. This season, the Bears will play seven teams that ranked in the top half in terms of fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in 2011. More specifically, all three NFC North foes, who the Bears will play twice, finished in the top seven of this category, led by Minnesota (2nd), followed by Green Bay (3rd) and Detroit (7th). Additionally, Arizona (8th), St. Louis (11th), San Francisco (13th) and Indianapolis (16th) also were ranked in the top 16.
— by Mark Ross, published on June 8, 2012
2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis: