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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Jarrett Bailey

Breaking down each quarter of the Bears’ 2023 schedule

The Bears have something that they haven’t had in the last few seasons: expectations. While Chicago won only three games in 2022, they added several notable pieces to their roster, and have a young quarterback who is going into Year 3 with a lot to prove. 

The Bears have gone from worst to first three times since 2000. Can they make it four in 2023?

Let’s break down their 2023 schedule and see exactly what we should expect from Chicago.

First Quarter

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
  • Week 1: vs. Packers
  • Week 2: at Buccaneers 
  • Week 3: at Chiefs
  • Week 4: vs. Broncos

The Bears open their season in the friendly confines of Soldier Field against the Green Bay Packers, who have officially entered a new era with Jordan Love at the helm. The uncertainty surrounding Love makes Green Bay a big wild card. However, the continuity of Chicago will be an advantage in this opening-game situation. 

They follow up their home opener with a trip to Tampa Bay. The Bucs have major question marks at both head coach and quarterback. Todd Bowles is a fine defensive coordinator, but he has proven in two different stops that he is not a head coach at the NFL level. The Bears should take advantage of the chaos during their trip down south.

The Chiefs will be the toughest game of the season for the Bears, without question. In case you weren’t aware, Patrick Mahomes is pretty good at this football thing. As long as Kansas City has Andy Reid, Mahomes, and Travis Kelce, they will be a threat to win it all. However, getting this game out of the way early is a good draw for Chicago. 

They close the first quarter of the season by facing another team that is a giant shrug of the shoulders when they take on the Broncos. Can Sean Payton fix Russell Wilson? If he can’t, it will be another long year for Denver. At worst, the Bears split their first four games. At best, they are 3-1 and possibly leading the NFC North.

Second Quarter

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
  • Week 5: at Commanders
  • Week 6: vs. Vikings
  • Week 7: vs. Raiders
  • Week 8: at Chargers

This month-long stretch also seems to be a relatively friendly one on the surface. The Bears travel to Washington Week 5, before a two-game home stand against the Vikings and Raiders, respectively. They round out the first half of the season with a trip to Los Angeles to face the Chargers. Similar to the first month, the Bears very well could put together a 3-1 stretch. The Commanders will be interesting, depending on how well Sam Howell turns out to be. They have a defense that is one of the better units in the league, and the weapons offensively — they just need the right quarterback. 

The Vikings with Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson are never an easy outing, but having this first matchup at home could certainly play into Chicago’s hand. Minnesota and Chicago seemed to be two sides of the same coin in 2022. The Vikings won 11 one-score games while the Bears lost seven one score games. 

The Raiders are going to be a tire fire — that’s a game the Bears should win. Their star receiver has made it clear he isn’t on board with what they are doing, it seems apparent they are trading Hunter Renfrow, and the head coach is a lame duck who has parlayed two stints with Tom Brady into head coaching gigs. They are no threat whatsoever. 

With the Chargers, we know how talented Justin Herbert is, but everyone drinks the Chargers Kool-Aid every year. Will this be the year in which they make a definitive statement? Regardless, after eight games, the Bears should sport a record in the neighborhood of 5-3 to 6-2 at the very best. 4-4 is a possibility, but that would mean they lost multiple games they should have won. 

Third Quarter

Nic Antaya/Getty Images
  • Week 9: at Saints
  • Week 10: vs. Panthers
  • Week 11: at Lions
  • Week 12: at Vikings
  • Week 13: Bye

November features two games against NFC South opponents and two divisional matchups for the Bears. The Saints upgraded at quarterback with Derek Carr and benefit from playing in a weaker division, but how good is their roster? Their defense is aging, and they are thin at the skill positions. 

Carolina has a clear picture on what they are building and could be competitive as soon as this season. They have enough pieces around Bryce Young where he can learn on the job, but also not tank the Panthers season if he makes some mistakes.

The Lions upgraded their secondary, and added a big piece in the middle by drafting Jack Campbell. With a good offense, as well, they won’t be an easy out at home.

Beating the Vikings twice won’t come easy, either. If they can pull off a 2-2 split, that’s a win. This is the toughest stretch of the Bears schedule. But they go into their bye in Week 13. 

Fourth Quarter

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
  • Week 14: vs. Lions
  • Week 15: at Browns
  • Week 16: vs. Cardinals 
  • Week 17: vs. Falcons
  • Week 18: at Packers

The Bears close their season with a relatively favorable five-game stretch. The Lions will likely be a playoff team in 2023, but the Bears nearly pulled off the split last season. With an improved roster, they should be able to take a game from Detroit. 

The Browns are Pandora’s box. They could be great, they could be terrible, they could be somewhere in the middle — no one really knows what Cleveland will look like in 2023. They do, however, have a great ground attack led by Nick Chubb that is always difficult to contain.

The Cardinals are going to be atrocious, but it looks like Arizona will have Kyler Murray back by the time they square off with Chicago. Regardless, this team has no promise in 2023. This season is a vehicle for the Cardinals to get to the 2024 NFL draft. 

Atlanta has a well-built roster, but I have no confidence in Desmond Ridder. Depending on the coaching job Arthur Smith puts on display, this will be a tight game that could go either way. That said, I’d lean Bears at the time of writing. 

The potential of sweeping the Packers has Bears fans licking their chops. It’s hard to picture it happening, considering it hasn’t occurred since 2007. That said, it’s on the table.

Bottom Line

Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

The Bears are going to be this year’s New York Giants. They made solid moves all over their roster and had a respectable draft. It just comes down to Justin Fields. Will he take a step forward? I think so. If and when he does, the Bears will be a nine to 10 win team that secures a wild-card spot.

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