Nothing shows the NFL is king quite like turning the annual release schedule into a major week-long spectacle. But with primetime games already being announced and leaks beginning to surface, it’s clear fans are stoked to see when and where their favorite team is going to play this season.
For Chicago Bears fans, another question might be brewing as well: Will there be any prime-time games this season?
Seeing your favorite team play under the lights in front of a national audience can be thrilling and exciting. For Bears fans over the last couple of seasons, it was just a chance for the entire country to see the dysfunction that they had been living with for far too long.
Now coming off a 6-11 season with a new regime and plenty of unknowns, they may not be the most sought-after team to put in front of the entire country. Still, we’re predicting more than a couple opportunities to play prime-time football this upcoming season.
Bears Vs. Packers
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Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit. The Bears’ rivalry with the Green Bay Packers is one for the history books and always feels like a must-see TV for the national audience. Since 2005, these teams have played in prime time at least once in every season. The only issue is the vast majority have taken place at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
Since 2005, the Packers have hosted the Bears 13 times under the lights, compared to just four taking place in Chicago. In fact, Soldier Field played host to just one Bears-Packers prime-time game in the last 13 years. Something’s got to give and I think the NFL continues putting these teams under the lights, but this time it’s back in Chicago.
Bears and Cowboys
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Though they play in the same conference, the Bears and the Dallas Cowboys haven’t met up often in recent seasons. After facing each other four times in the early part of the 2010s, the Bears and Cowboys have matched up just twice since the 2016 season. But when these two historic franchises do get together, it’s usually reserved for prime time.
The last five matchups for the Bears and Cowboys have all taken place in prime time, being played on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday nights. Seeing as these meetings have become a bit rarer in recent seasons and considering the Cowboys are coming off a division title, it’s fair to assume the NFL will once again make sure a national audience gets to see this game.
Bears and Patriots
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I’ve used recent history to predict the previous two matchups but this next one has everything to do with the future. The Bears are traveling to Foxborough, MA, to take on the New England Patriots, meaning quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones will have their first meeting on the field since the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship.
That game was where Jones and the Alabama Crimson Tide trampled Justin Fields and the Ohio State Buckeyes to win the national title. It was also each player’s final college game as they entered the 2021 NFL draft and were the last two quarterbacks selected in the first round.
With the Patriots coming off a playoff berth and this being a rare AFC vs. NFC matchup, I see the schedule makers putting this one under the lights as well. For Fields and Jones, it will be familiar territory.