The NFL released its 2012 regular season schedule on Tuesday, the biggest change being the expansion of Thursday Night Football. The League will bring fans 13 regular season games on Thursday night, the first of which being Bears vs. Packers in Lambeau field on September 13th, at 7:20 PM CST.
All told, the Bears will play five games on primetime television, suggesting the blockbuster trade new GM Phil Emery made with Miami to bring Jay Cutler’s old mainstay, Brandon Marshall, to Chicago made an impression. Cutler last made it to a Pro Bowl with Marhall by his side, and he looked poised to knock on that door in 2011 before a broken thumb ended his season.
All five of the Bears primetime contests come in the first ten weeks of the season. This is the first time since the 2002 season that the Bears will play three contests on Monday Night Football. Under Head Coach Lovie Smith Chicago is 7-2 on Monday Night Football, 8-8 on Sunday Night Football and 2-2 on Thursday Night Football.
The Bears will start the regular season hosting the Indianapolis Colts and, presumably, Stanford’s Andrew Luck (projected to be the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft). The home opener will mark the third year on a row the team opens at Soldier Field. Since 1984, the Bears are 16-3 when they open the season at home.
“We started our offseason program yesterday and received our schedule today, so our 2012 season is officially underway,” head coach Lovie Smith said in the Bears press release. “I love starting the season at home in front of our fans. I don’t think there is a better place to kick off the season than playing at Soldier Field on the lakefront. Playing five of our first 10 games in prime time also stands out. Each week brings its own challenge and we are excited to begin our pursuit of a world championship.”
Other 2012 schedule notes and observations:
- The Bears own 51 opening-day victories overall (52-35-5, .592), tied with Green Bay (52-36-3, .588) for the most by any NFL franchise. Chicago has won three of their last four opening-day contests.
- The last time the Bears opened the season against the Colts was in 2008 when Chicago beat Indianapolis, 29-13, at Lucas Oil Stadium. This will mark the second time in team history that the Bears open the regular season at home against the Colts, with the first coming in 1975, a 35-7 victory for the Baltimore Colts at Soldier Field. The Bears also opened the regular season against the Colts franchise in Baltimore on three occasions (1953, 1955 and 1956).
- This marks the first time since the 1940 championship season where the Bears will play their first two regular season contests of the year within five days of each other. In 1940, the Bears played their first two regular season contests within four days: a 41-0 victory at Green Bay on September 22 and a 21-7 loss to the Chicago Cardinals on September 25 at Comiskey Park.
- Chicago will square off against all four teams from the NFC West and AFC South this season.
- Chicago will host St. Louis (Week 3) and Seattle (Week 13), while traveling to San Francisco (Week 11) and Arizona (Week 16). The Bears are 143-102-10 all-time against teams for the NFC West (.580). Chicago last faced all four teams from the NFC West in 2009, going 2-2 in those contests.
- The Bears will travel to Jacksonville (Week 5) and Tennessee (Week 9) while hosting Indianapolis (Week 1) and Houston (Week 10). Chicago is 26-32 (.448) all-time against teams from the AFC South. Chicago last faced all four teams from the AFC South in 2008, going 2-2 in those contests.
- This is the first time since the 2002 season that the Bears will play three contests on Monday Night Football.
- The Bears will travel 14,258 miles during the 2012 season. Chicago’s longest trip during the season is to San Francisco (3,692 miles round-trip).
Here’s the full 2012 schedule
|Fri.||24||@ Giants||7:00 PM||WBBM||CBS|
|Thu.||30||@ Browns||6:30 PM||WBBM||CBN/WFLD|
|Thu.||13||@ Packers||7:20 PM||WBBM||NFL Network|
|Mon.||1||@ Cowboys||7:30 PM||WBBM||ESPN|
|Sun.||7||@ Jaguars||3:05 PM||WBBM||FOX|
|Sun.||4||@ Titans||12:00 PM||WBBM||FOX|
|Mon.||19||@ 49ers||7:30 PM||WBBM||ESPN|
|Sun.||9||@ Vikings||12:00 PM||WBBM||FOX|
|Sun.||23||@ Cardinals||3:15 PM||WBBM||FOX|
|Sun.||30||@ Lions||12:00 PM||WBBM||FOX|
*Games from week 12 (11/25) through week 17 (12/30) are subject to flex scheduling.
You can download a printer-friendly version of the Bears schedule here.