Move to primetime worth the scheduling headache for Bears

NBC Sports Chicago

Move to primetime worth the scheduling headache for Bears originally appeared on nbcsportschicago.com

About 85 hours after the Bears wrap up their Sunday Night Football date with the Minnesota Vikings, they'll kick off a Thanksgiving matchup with the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. 

That's a quick turnaround, one that won't afford much recovery of gameplanning time leading up to the Bears' third NFC North game in 12 days. But whatever hassle it may be is viewed as being worth it inside the walls of Halas Hall. 

"Anytime you're getting flexed, man, you're in a good situation," defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. "Whether it works with your schedule or not, getting flexed is awesome. I think we take a great deal of pride in people wanting to see us on national TV and wanting to see us play in those primetime spots. You're really humbled by it because you're getting an opportunity other teams aren't getting."

Even if the schedule doesn't work?

"Hey, you play the cards you're dealt, man," Hicks said. 

The Bears-Vikings game at Soldier Field on Nov. 18 was initially scheduled for a noon kickoff, but with first place in the NFC North at stake and the originally scheduled Sunday night Pittsburgh Steelers-Jacksonville Jaguars game losing its luster, moving it from noon to primetime was a logical decision. 

It does mean, though, that the Bears won't have the night after facing the Vikings to rest up with a short week looming. In 2017, the Bears played a noon kickoff against the Steelers before a Thursday night game against the Packers; the same was the case in 2015 when the Bears beat the Packers on Thanksgiving four days after a noon kickoff against the Denver Broncos

"When we first got here we talked about how fortunate we were - I'm talking about myself with the team, how fortunate we were to have two prime-time games to start the year (against Green Bay and Seattle in Weeks 1 and 2)," coach Matt Nagy said. "They don't come easily. The goal as we go is to have a lot of those. That means you're doing well. To be flexed for that game, a division game, should be exciting to our team and our players. 

"Now, that's a night game, and then you get into a short week and not only a short week which is a Thursday game, but a short week, which is a 12:30 (E.T.) game in Detroit. So that's a super tight schedule for us. But we can't worry about that. We'll focus in on what we have this week and as that time goes, we'll arrange the schedule and make sure we take care of our guys."

The Bears, of course, aren't looking past this weekend's date with the Lions at Soldier Field - not when they went 0-6 against the NFC North in 2017 and haven't had a winning record against their own division since 2010. But a week from now, the excitement level at Halas Hall will be upped a notch - and then, two weeks from now, the Bears will have to deal with an even shorter Thursday game week than usual. 
 
"It's cool," center Cody Whitehair said. "It just goes to speak of the level of play this team is playing with. But we just really gotta focus on Detroit and get past that before we look to the next opponent."

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