Chicago Bears: Analyzing the 2013 Schedule

The 2013 off-season saw many winds of change for the Bears. The Lovie Smith era ended with the Bears losing five of their eight after a 7-1 start.

The Marc Trestman era will begin at home on September 8th against the Cincinnati Bengals. Tight End Martellus Bennett, Tackle Jermon Bushrod and Linebacker D.J. Williams will also make their Bears debuts on the second Sunday in September.

After 17 seasons (ten of which were spent as an offensive coordinator)  in the NFL off and on since 1989, Trestman will finally make his debut as a head coach at the age of 57 after five seasons coaching the Montreal Alouettes in Canada. He was the 2009 CFL Coach of the Year and won Grey Cup titles in 2009 and 2010.

The Bears will make four prime-time appearances in 2013. They travel to Pittsburgh on September 22nd for Sunday night football on NBC, the Giants come to Soldier Field on October 10th on the NFL Network (just four days after the Bears host New Orleans), the Bears will make the first of two Monday Night Football appearances on November 4th at Green Bay, and they will play the Cowboys for the second year in a row in  on December 9th, this time at Soldier Field.

Here is a look ahead at the Bears entire schedule.

 

Week 1/September 8 vs. Bengals 12:00 CBS

The Bears are only 3-6 all-time against the Bengals. They have not beaten Cincinnati since a 24-0 shutout win in 2001. The Bengals have won the last two matchups by a combined 69-17 score. Cincinnati made back to back playoff appearances for the first time in 30 years last season. The Bears last accomplished that in 2005-06.

They are led by Wide Receiver A.J. Green. Green has been a pro-bowler in each of his last two seasons and was a second team all-pro in 2012.

 

Week 2/September 15 vs Vikings 12:00 FOX

The Vikings hold a 53-49-2 edge all-time against the Bears.

As expected, Brandon Marshall and Adrian Peterson were the stars in both meetings last season. Marshall combined had 22 receptions for 252 yards and a touchdown and AP had 49 carries for 262 yards and a touchdown and eight receptions for 46 yards.

The Vikings had a busy off-season  They traded Percy Harvin to Seattle and signed Greg Jennings from Minnesota to replace him. QB Matt Cassel was signed from Kansas City. After nine seasons with the VIkings Antoine Winfield was released, as was wide receiver Michael Jenkins. WR Jerome Simpson and OT Phil Loadholt.

 

Week 3/ at Pittsburgh 7:30 NBC

The Bears hold a 17-7-1 record all-time against Pittsburgh. After a three game losing streak, the Bears won the last meeting in 2009.

Skokie Native and Niles West alum Rashard Mendenhall will miss playing against the Bears by one season. He moved on to the Cardinals this offseason.

The Bears and Steelers series dates back to 1934 and the Bears won the first ten matchups. Pittsburgh did not crack double digits against the Bears until their tenth meeting.

The Steelers had a busy off-season letting go past stars like Mendenhall and Super Bowl hero James Harrison. After two seasons with the Bears, Matt Spaeth re-signed with Pittsburgh this off-season. He made the most of his seven receptions with Chicago scoring three touchdowns.

 

Week 4/September 29 at Detroit 12:00 FOX

The Bears and Lions first met in 1930 when Detroit was the Portsmouth Spartans. They also met two years later in the NFL’s first playoff game at the Chicago Stadium. The game had to be moved indoors after a blizzard.

The Bears have dominated the series overall with a 96-65-5 all-time record against the Spartans/Lions. They have also won nine of the last ten. Their lone loss in that time was on October 11, 2011 on Monday Night Football.

The two games last season were close with the Bears earning 13-7 victory at home and 26-24 win in Detroit.

Olindo Mare had his best game as a Bear in the second win. He made four out of five field goals.

 

Week 5/October 6 vs. New Orleans 12:00 FOX

New Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer will go against the Saints for the first time after serving as an assistant under Sean Payton for the last five seasons. New Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod will also get a chance to face his former teammates after six seasons in the big easy.

After three straight playoff appearances and only one losing season in the last six, the Saints slipped to 7-9 last season. Kromer served as the head coach for the first six games before Joe Vitt came back. The Saints should welcome the return of Naperville native and Head Coach Payton after having to sit out last season because of bounty gate.

The Bears hold a 15-12 edge on the Saints. The Bears lost 30-13 in the Superdome in 2011, breaking a four game series winning streak.

 

Week Six/October 10 vs New York Giants 7:25 NFL Network

The Bears will have a quick turnaround with the second of their four prime-time games in 2013. The Bears and GIants rivalry goes back to 1925 with the Bears holding a 32-21-2 advantage.

The Giants won the last meeting 17-3 in 2010. The score wasn't indicative of how much the Giants truly dominated the game. They limited the Bears to 110 total yards, had 10 sacks and knocked Jay Cutler and Todd Collins out of the game. The Bears rebuilt offensive line should give Cutler better protection this time.

Martellus Bennett will play his first game against his former teammates. He had 55 catches for 626 yards and five touchdowns in his one season with the G-Men.

The Giants will also have a bit of a different look in 2013. The brought in DT’s Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins from Philadelphia, signed Brandon Myers to replace Bennett and released RB AHmad Bradshaw. David Wilson should be the one to replace Bradshaw.

This will be the Bears last home game for a month.

 

Week Seven/October 20 at Washington 12:00 FOX

The Bears face their second straight old rival and NFC East opponent when the Redskins line up at Soldier Field. They will be facing each other for the 48th time. Each team has 23 wins with one tie. The Bears have lost four in a row and eight of the last ten to Washington.

The Bears played one Thursday night game last season. They lost at Green Bay in week two and then came back to defeat St. Louis 23-6 in week three.

 

Week Eight/Bye

Each of the Bears first seven opponents have made the playoffs in at least one of the past two seasons. The bye comes at a good time for Marc Trestman to evaluate how his first half season as a head coach will go.

The new offense and revamped defense will get a chance to work out what has and has not worked. Considering one of the brightest offensive minds in football, Trestman should come up with some new wrinkles and have time to work with Cutler during their time off.

 

Week Nine/ November 4 at Green Bay/ 7:40 ESPN

The Bears head to Green Bay for the second and final Monday night football game of the season. The is the first of the two annual matchups for the 2013 season.

The Bears own a 92-88-6 advantage in their rivalry with the Packers. Green Bay has dominated the series for most of the last 20 years. After the Bears went one a 7-3 roll vs. Green Bay between 2004 and 2008, the Packers have won the last six. Green Bay has won 31 of the last 42 meetings.

The Packers are known for their offense, but it is their defense that has made the difference lately in the NFL’s oldest rivalry. The Bears have not scored more the 21 points against the Packers since 2007. The Packers sacked the Bears 11 times and held them under 200 yards in two games last season. Clay Matthews had 5.5 of his 12 sacks against the Bears last season. The Bears also failed to crack 200 yards in offense in each game in 2013.

Both teams feature good pass rushes against shaky offensive lines. How well each protects will play an important role in who comes out on top.

 

Week 10/November 10th vs. Detroit 12:00 ESPN

After a month worth of road games, the Bears return home to face the Lions  Opposite of their series with Green Bay, the Bears have dominated the Lions for the most the last eight seasons. The Monsters of the Midway have won 13 of their last 16 games against the Lions.

The Lions travel to Soldier Field for the second of the teams two meetings coming off their bye

One of the most spectacular plays of Reggie Bush’s career occurred against the Bears in the 2006 NFC Championship game. He will play his first game at Soldier Field as a member of the Lions in Week ten.

The Lions signed Bush last month and also added former pro-bowl kicker David Akers. They released DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and lost DE Cliff Avril to Seattle. Bush, Joique Bell, Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure give the Lions great depth at running back.

 

Week 11/November 17 vs. Baltimore 12:00 CBS

The retirement of Ray Lewis and loss of Ed Reed to Houston, means the Ravens are defending champions in name only. The teams have split their four meetings all-time. The losing team has never scored more than seven points. They also released former Bear Brendon Ayanbadejo.

Former Raiders, S Michael Huff and LB Rolando McClain were signed to replace Reed and Lewis.

The departures of Lewis and Reed will take the Ravens into a new era. The emphasis will shift from offense to defense. The team’s two biggest stars will now be QB Joe Flacco who signed a six year/$120 million contract extension after winning the Superbowl MVP and RB Ray Rice.

 

Week 12/November 24 at St. Louis 12:00 FOX

The Bears and the Rams will meet for the 91st time in St. Louis in Week 12. After three wild games between 2002 and 2006, the Bears have dominated the last three meetings since 2008. The Blackhawks have combined to defeat the Rams 67-18 in their last three games.

The Bears needed 13 points in the fourth quarter and a 45 yard interception return by Major Wright to pull away from the Rams on the lakefront last season in a 23-6 win.

After over 13.000 yards from scrimmage, Steven Jackson moved on to Atlanta in the off-season. After 475 yards rushing and 4.8 YPC, Darryl Richardson is poised to take over for Jackson.

The Rams brought in TE Jared Cook to improve their passing game and added the top offensive lineman in free agency in Jake Long. They appear woeful at wide receiver. They lost Danny Amendola to New England in free agency. Only Chris Givens caught more than 30 passes last season.


Week 13/ December 1 at Minnesota 12:00 FOX

This could be a game that has a great impact on the playoff scenarios latter in the season.  The Vikings 21-14 victory in week 14 last season played a large role in Minnesota edging the Bears out for the last playoff spot. The loss dropped the Bears to 8-5 and pushed Minnesota to 7-6.

The Bears lost the next week at Green Bay and the Vikings won out to claim the NFC’s last playoff spot and cost Lovie Smith his job. The Vikings win last december broke a six game Bears run in the series.

 

Week 14/December 9 vs. Dallas 7:40 ESPN

For the second year in a row, the Bears will play the Cowboys on Monday night football. The Bears 10-11 record against Dallas is one of only three losing records against NFC Teams.

Their win over Dallas last season was arguably the Bears most complete win of the season. They scored two defensive touchdowns, Cutler threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns and Marshall had seven receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown.

The game was not as close as the 34-18 final score. Dallas scored a late touchdown with Kyle Orton in the game late.

After spending the last four seasons in Dallas, new special teams coach Joe DeCamillis will face his old team for the first time.

Dez Bryant against Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman will be a great battle to watch. Bryant had a seven game touchdowns streak that ended in a week 17 loss to the Redskins.

The game against Dallas will be the Bears only home game in a five game stretch,

 

Week 15/December 15 at Cleveland 12:00 FOX

The Bears and Browns have been in the NFL together since 1950 (except for the Brown three years hiatus in the 1990’s), yet have only met 14 times. The Browns hold a 9-5 advantage against the Bears.

The Bears have won two of the last three meetings, including 30-6 in their last meeting in 2009.

Cleveland had a busy off-season. They hired Rob Chudzinski as Head Coach. He brought on former Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator and Ray Horton on as his defensive coordinator.

They also traded former starting quarterback Colt McCoy to San Francisco and signed former Bears backup Quarterback Jason Campbell. Tight End Kellen Davis will also be facing his former teammates. Former Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger was their biggest signing off the offseason. They inked him for five years and $40 million.

 

Week 16/December 22 at Philadelphia 12:00 FOX

Other than a five game losing streak in the height of the Donovan McNabb era, the Bears have dominated the Eagles. They hold a 30-11-1 edge since their first meeting in 1933.

They won three out of four between 2008-11 before not play last season.

After 14 years under Andy Reid, the Eagles grabbed former Oregon Coach Chip Kelly to lead them into their next era.

After being called the dream the last two seasons, the Eagles cleaned house in the off-season  Gone is a good portion of the Eagles defense and Kelly in to revamp their offense. The will have had 15 weeks to work out the kinks by the time they face the Bears. It would seem as if anyone in the NFL can run it, it would be Michael Vick.

A December game in Philly will also present its own challenges as will the fourth out of five games on the road. The new school spread option against Marc Trestman’s west coast offense should be interesting.

With new offensive minded head coaches and the last four meetings combining for at least 44 points, this could be a wild one at Lincoln Financial Field.

 

Week 17/ December 29 vs Green Bay 12:00 FOX

After playing on Monday Night Football in week nine, the Bears and Packers will face off in what the NFL has dubbed rivalry weekend in week 17. The new approach will diminish some rivalries and enhance others.

Nothing can ever exceed the NFC Championship game between the Bears and Packers three seasons ago. If this game has something on the line it could be the focus of the NFL and even flexed into Sunday night.

Jay Cutler has not had much success in the NFL’s oldest rivalry. Since coming over from Denver for the 2009 season, Cutler is just 1-8 against Green Bay. Lovie Smith put a premium on beating the Packers when he was hired in 2003. The six game losing streak the Bears currently have against GB had to play a role in his firing. This could be a game that makes or breaks the Bears season and endears Bears fans to Trestman to finish off his inaugural season.

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