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Saturday, May 28, 2022

2022 Bears’ Schedule Layout Works Perfectly For Matt Eberflus

The Chicago Bears unveiled their 2022 NFL schedule on Thursday night as the team learned when they would play their opponents. Chicago has three primetime games scheduled, including a Week 2 Sunday Night game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The format of when the Bears will play their opponents works perfectly for first-year head coach Matt Eberflus as there is a healthy mix of difficult and winnable games throughout the year.

A prime example of how balanced Chicago’s schedule is and how it will benefit Eberflus is their first four opponents. The Bears will play two home games and two road games to start the 2022 season. They will open at home against the San Francisco 49ers before going on the road to play the Packers. Eberflus’ team will be tested early by playing two playoff teams to start, enabling the coach to determine just how far his team is from being a playoff-caliber team.

The least winnable game of the season for the Bears will be the Week 2 game against the Packers, as they have not won a game in Green Bay since 2015. Although the game will be on national television, as long as Eberflus’ team isn’t embarrassed during the game, the rookie head coach will not have anything held against him. Likewise, if Chicago has a good showing against Green Bay, even in a losing effort, the Bears’ head coach will receive high praise.

The Bears’ next two opponents in Week 3 and 4 will be the Houston Texans and New York Giants, as both teams will also feature new head coaches. Chicago will host Houston and new head coach Lovie Smith, while they will travel to New York the next week to face the Giants and first-year head coach Brian Daboll. Both these games will be winnable games for the Bears and will enable Eberflus to correct mistakes and begin working on his team’s weaknesses exposed during their first two games of the season.

Another benefit of the layout for the 2022 season for Eberflus will be the pairing of the other two primetime games scheduled for the Bears. In Week 6, Chicago will host the Washington Commanders on Thursday Night Football and then travel to New England to face the Patriots on Monday Night Football in Week 7. At the moment, these will be the only other primetime games for the Bears, with additional time off to prepare for the Patriots following the Commanders game.

The back-to-back nationally televised games allow Eberflus’ young team to get big-game exposure while avoiding being overexposed as a bad team, which the Bears are projected to be. Chicago will play their three primetime games in the first half of the season and none in the second half. If Eberflus’ team plays poorly in the second half of the 2022 season, he will avoid being criticized as a bad coach on a national level as the Bears will not have any national exposure.

The final five games of the Bears’ schedule are beneficial Eberflus as the team will play four of their last five games at home, including the final two games against divisional opponents. The Bears will play three consecutive home games against the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Buffalo Bills, with a bye week between the Packers and Eagles game. Like the start of the 2022 season, Eberflus will be able to test his young Bears’ roster against potential playoff-bound teams berfore having two winnable games to finish the season. tThe mix of challenging and winnable games will allow for improvements to be made and for a better evaluation on what positions may need to be addressed in the offseason.

Going on the road to play the Detroit Lions on New Year’s Day and then wrapping the season at home against the Minnesota Vikings allows Eberflus to end his first season in a positive way. If the Bears can win their final two games of the 2022 season, it will demonstrate that the team is still playing hard for their new head coach. Additionally, Chicago can build much-needed momentum heading into the offseason, which could potentially carry over into the start of the 2023 season.

A past instance of momentum carrying over from one season to the next was the Bears’ 2009 and 2010 seasons. With Smith as head coach during that time, Chicago finished the 2009 season with a disappointing 7-9 record but did win their final two games against the Lions and Vikings. The Bears would use the positive momentum and carry it over to the 2010 season, where they won the first three games of the season and would win the NFC North Division at the end of the year.

There are low expectations for the Bears heading into the 2022 season, but the scheduling format will benefit Eberflus significantly. Unlike the previous Bears’ seasons, there is no difficult stretch of unwinnable games, nor is there any late-season primetime games that could lead to national embarrassment or criticism. Eberflus will use the 2022 season to rebuild the Bears, and the schedule will help provide a healthy mix competition to ensure improvements can be made during the year.

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