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17 games, 17 subplots for entire Bears 2024 regular season schedule

17 games, 17 subplots for entire Bears 2024 regular season schedule originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Less than 24 hours after the Bears released their 2024 regular season schedule, most have had time to digest the immediate storylines and mark down important dates on the calendars. We know when Caleb Williams will square off against Jayden Daniels. We know when the Packers are coming to Soldier Field. And we know when the Bears ship off to London.

But there are still plenty of storylines to explore just beneath the surface.

Here’s a subplot to follow for every game this season.

WEEK 1 VS. TENNESSEE TITANS

Over the past several seasons, GM Ryan Poles seems to have built a Nashville-to-Chicago pipeline. As things stand, the Bears have five former Titans projected to start this year: Khari Blasingame, Kevin Byard, Nate Davis, Cairo Santos and DeMarcus Walker.

Byard is the man who did the most for the Titans over his career, and he’s the newest Bear too. He made it clear he’s got the game circled on his calendar.

WEEK 2 AT HOUSTON TEXANS

The Texans are the team that solidified instant-playoff expectations for the Bears this year. In 2023, C.J. Stroud led Houston to a division title and a huge playoff win as a rookie. So why can’t Caleb Williams do the same for the Bears? This is an early measuring stick game for the young QB and the rest of the team.

WEEK 3 AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The Bears and head coach Matt Eberflus traveled to Indianapolis for joint practices and a preseason game against the Colts last year, but this will be the first time Eberflus coaches against his former team for real.

“Revenge” probably isn’t the right word for Eberflus’ return, since the Colts gave him his first professional defensive coordinator job– which in turn led to his head coaching gig with the Bears. But he’ll still probably have some emotions coaching against his former team.

WEEK 4 VS. LOS ANGELES RAMS

The Rams and Matthew Stafford will be on a quest to show the league they should still be considered among the upper echelons of the NFC this year. New Bears tight end Gerald Everett and center Coleman Shelton will want to show they should’ve been a part of the Rams’ plans.

The Rams drafted Everett, but didn’t sign him to a second contract. He ended up putting up better numbers down the road for the Chargers. Shelton started 30 games for the Rams over the past two seasons, but they let him walk this year.

WEEK 5 VS. CAROLINA PANTHERS

All eyes will be on DJ Moore in his second game against his former team, but this is also a showcase for offensive passing game coordinator Thomas Brown. The new Bears coach worked as the Panthers offensive coordinator last season, and part of his charge in Chicago will be to help the Bears apply some of the lessons he learned from Bryce Young’s rocky rookie season.

WEEK 6 VS. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (LONDON)

The last time the Bears played in London, in 2019, their dreams of a Super Bowl run essentially died. The team was expected to play well following their surprising 12-4 campaign in 2018, but in the London game Akiem Hicks hurt his elbow and Khalil Mack apparently missed the flight– he only notched three tackles against his former team. That kicked off a four-game losing streak that ultimately doomed the season.

The Bears will want to erase those memories with a more successful trip across the pond this year.

WEEK 8 AT WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

Again, the Williams vs. Daniels matchup will grab headlines, but Montez Sweat will probably have this date circled on his calendar. The Commanders traded Sweat away at last year’s trade deadline, and the Bears promptly paid Sweat a ton of money. Sweat earned every dollar of his salary over the second half of the season in Chicago. He’ll likely want to show the Commanders up close and personal why he’s worthy of being paid like a franchise-foundational player.

WEEK 9 AT ARIZONA CARDINALS

When the Bears’ free agent deal for Larry Ogunjobi fell through due to a failed physical, Justin Jones became the team’s Plan B. Jones, and the rest of the defensive line, struggled to generate pressure in 2022, but once Sweat arrived halfway through 2023, things got better. But just as things got better, the Bears and Jones parted ways. Seems like a game ripe for revenge.

WEEK 10 VS. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

The Bears get their first look at the Bill Belichick-less Pats. Like Eberflus, new head coach Jerod Mayo is a former linebacker. It will be interesting to see how Mayo develops his own Patriots Way.

WEEK 11 VS. GREEN BAY PACKERS

Well into the second half of the season, the Bears finally play their first divisional game! Every year is supposed to be the year the Bears finally change the script against their rivals to the north. Will they finally deliver this year?

WEEK 12 VS. MINNESOTA VIKINGS

If this game was scheduled earlier in the year, there’s a good chance that Sam Darnold would be leading the team. At this point in the year will it be the J.J. McCarthy show?

WEEK 13 AT DETROIT LIONS

D’Andre Swift was supposed to be the next great Lions running back when he entered the league in 2020. But throughout his three seasons in Detroit, Swift always found himself splitting carries with other talented rushers. The Lions finally shipped Swift to the Eagles in 2023, where he finally received 200+ carries and tallied over 1,000 yards. In Week 13, he’ll finally get the chance to play against his former team– and he’ll get to do it again in Week 16.

WEEK 14 AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

The last time the Bears played the 49ers, they managed monsoon conditions a bit better for a surprising win to kick off the 2022 season and the Eberflus era. Vibes were high, but they wouldn’t last. The team ended up going 3-14 and finished the year as the worst team in football.

Will they be able to steal another win against the class of the NFC this year? What will the vibes be like heading into the last month of the season?

WEEK 15 AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS

A Bears-Vikings Monday Night Football matchup feels like an annual tradition at this point. The two teams met on MNF in three of the last four seasons, and the Bears only won one of those games.

WEEK 16 VS. DETROIT LIONS

The Lions proved to be the class of the NFC North last year with a 12-5 record and a trip to the NFC Championship game. If the Bears want to compete for division titles, they’ll have to go through Detroit, and this could be a pivotal game in that quest.

WEEK 17 VS. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

In normal circumstances, Shane Waldron would not have been looking for a new job this offseason. But when the Seahawks pushed Pete Carroll out of his head coaching job and into the front office, Waldron needed to start looking for other employment. The Bears took advantage of the rare opportunity and hired him. Waldron will have his first shot to carve up his old team with his gameplan in the latter stages of the season.

WEEK 18 AT GREEN BAY PACKERS

Bears. Lambeau Field. A one-sided rivalry, in large part due to a quarterback disparity.

Williams has said he fashioned parts of his game after Aaron Rodgers. Will he be able to put on a Rodgers-esque performance in front of the Packers faithful? Or will he be the latest Bears QB to fall flat on that hallowed ground?

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