- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Calling the Bears' 2011 schedule difficult might be somewhat of a stretch, based on the winning percentage of the club’s upcoming opponents.
The upcoming regular-season schedule consists of opponents that combined for a record of 128-128 in 2010, including seven teams coming off playoff appearances. Still, 17 teams around the league play a more difficult schedule, including all of the Bears’ NFC North foes.
The Lions play the league’s fourth-toughest schedule, facing opponents that combined for a 133-123 record, including seven 2010 playoff participants. The Minnesota Vikings own the league’s 12-most difficult schedule, followed by the Green Bay Packers at No. 13.
The truth, however, is that records from the previous year typically don’t matter.
After all, five teams -- the Falcons, Bears, Chiefs, Steelers and Seahawks -- advanced to the playoffs in 2010 after being shut out of the postseason the previous year. That’s actually happened in each of the last 15 years.