- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Breakdown: In a cruel twist, the Bears open up the regular season against playoff-caliber opponents Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle in succession. Hosting division rival Green Bay in Week 1 is particularly ominous. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers owns the Bears. The exact opposite can be said for Jay Cutler. Green Bay has won eight of the past nine in the series. The Bears do have a winnable home game in Week 4 against Oakland, but two more challenging away tests follow in Kansas City and Detroit. If the Bears aren't careful, they could be 1-5 heading into the bye week. The second of the schedule, including the Bears' lone appearance on ESPN's Monday Night Football in Week 9 at San Diego, appears softer, but back-to-back weeks against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos and Rodgers and the Pack on Thanksgiving might spell doom. The Bears can theoretically make up ground later in the year against the likes of San Francisco, Washington and Tampa, but Calvin Johnson and the Lions wait for the Bears in Week 17 at Soldier Field. It looks to be an uphill climb for the Bears to reach the postseason for the first time since 2010.
Complaint department: What did the Bears do to offend the NFL schedule-makers? A three-game stretch to kickoff the regular season against Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle is unfair. The Bears could very well have three losses before the calendar turns to October. But it gets worse. After hosting the Oakland Raiders in Week 4, the Bears go on the road back-to-back weeks to face Kansas City and Detroit before the bye week arrives. Minus the Raiders, the Bears' opponents to begin the year went a combined 55-25 in 2014. Later in the year, the Bears have to prepare for the Broncos, then turn around and travel to Lambeau Field on a short week for a Thanksgiving night matchup in Green Bay. The fear is the Bears are simply playing out the string from Week 13 to the end of the regular season.
Holiday pay: Nine years elapsed between the Bears' 2004 appearance on Thanksgiving and last year's 34-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. The Bears won't be so lucky this time around. Picked by the league to play at Green Bay on Thanksgiving, the Bears must contend with the emotion surrounding Brett Favre's number retirement ceremony. Favre is the ultimate Bears' killer with 23 career wins and 60 touchdowns passes. The Bears hope to reverse a trend. The NFL's charter franchise has lost four straight games on Thanksgiving and sits 16-15-2 all time. This also marks the 10th consecutive year the Bears and Packers have met in prime time.
Strength of schedule: 13th, .531
Bears regular-season schedule (all times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, Arizona, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, Oakland, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Monday, Nov. 9, at San Diego, 8:30 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, Denver, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, San Francisco, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, Washington, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, Detroit, 1:00 PM
The Bears start the season against 2014 playoff participants Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle.