Good morning, frents!
So with coronavirus and the near-certainty these games will be played in empty stadiums, did anyone feel confident enough to pony up for Bears’ single-game tickets last night? There wasn’t a lot of inventory out there when I checked about a half-hour after on-sale time, so some of you might have.
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Ready or not, here we come (You can’t hide)
So can anyone remember how we previously learned about the Bears schedule?
Seems to me like it just appeared in newspapers in the spring, most everyone ignored it and then we all picked up a pocket schedule from the Ace Hardware paint counter sometime in August and tried our best to commit it to memory.
This year’s schedule came to us on a wave of hype, numerous leaks and, ultimately, via the Animal Crossing-style video above.
Though I'd already seen the real schedule via the tweets of beat writers, I watched it anyway.
And let me tell you: Not the thing to watch after you’ve been inside for 54 days and are prone to hallucinations without that demonic-looking Cheesehead and Viking making you question your current reality.
I mean, good lord:
Luckily, I’ve recovered and am here to offer you my quarter-by-quarter take (shoutout to Lovie) whether you asked for it or not.
- Sun Sept 13 — at Detroit
- Sun Sept 20 — NY GIANTS
- Sun Sept 27 — at Atlanta
- Sun Oct 4 — INDIANAPOLIS
We probably could not have drawn this start up much better. Four weeks, four teams that finished under .500 last season.
The question is whether these will actually be the first games the Bears play — or the last. Under the contingency plan released by the league on Thursday, any games delayed by COVID-19 will be tacked onto the end of the season with a commensurate delay of the playoffs and Super Bowl. (The league says any week can serve as opening week, all teams share a bye week with their second-week opponent which would be convenient for rescheduling purposes.)
Honestly, I don’t hate the idea of having to beat the Lions and Giants the final two weeks of the season to get into the playoffs if the start of the season gets delayed.
I also don’t hate the idea of a longer delay and Philip Rivers and the Colts coming to Soldier Field and playing in an early February blizzard with playoff spots on the line.
- Thu Oct 8 — TAMPA BAY
- Sun Oct 18 — at Carolina
- Mon Oct 26 — at LA Rams
- Sun Nov 1 — NEW ORLEANS
This is where it all fell apart for the 2019 Bears as they barfed up a Week 5 loss to the Raiders in London and fell into a four-game losing streak that erased a 3-1 start it and sent the team into a funk it could never quite shake.
This segment of the 2020 schedule again looks make or break, which shouldn’t be the case since it involves two quarterbacks over 40, a team led by a college coach and a franchise that decided to give all of its money to Jared Goff and the since-released Todd Gurley.
Here’s the reality, though: Those 40-something quarterbacks are named Tom Brady and Drew Brees, the college coach has Teddy Bridgewater (who throttled the Bears last year, though with Sean Payton instead of Matt Rhule at the helm) and … well I’m actually not that worried about that Rams game. (I do question
The Bucs and Saints both come at home, but both are on short rest with two long road trips sandwiched in between. Going 2-2 here is key.
- Sun, Nov 8 — at Tennessee
- Mon, Nov 16 — MINNESOTA
- Sun, Nov 22 — BYE
- Sun, Nov 29 — at Green Bay (SNF)
- Sun, Dec 6 — DETROIT
Not an easy stretch by any means, either. The Bears can beat up on that first-half opposition all the want but none of it will mean a thing if they don’t beat the NFC North-heavy schedule in the second half. The quarter-opening game in Tennessee gives invading Bears fans another chance to drink Nashville dry.
Loser, by the way, keeps Jay Cutler.
- Sun, Dec 13 — HOUSTON
- Sun Dec 20 — at Minnesota
- Sun Dec 27 — at Jacksonville
- Sun Jan 3 — GREEN BAY
Again, who knows if this will be the actual end of the season. The NFL’s calendar year has given us a nice escape the past two months as we went through free agency, the draft and the calendar release as usual. But now the league is going up against what the NBA, NHL and MLB have been trying to figure out since waving off its games in mid-March. Conducting a draft from Roger Goodell’s basement was tough; figuring out how to stage and televise 256 games across 30 different stadiums in the middle of a country that has 50 different plans of returning from a pandemic is another thing altogether.
But let’s say things start off on schedule and this is the schedule’s final coda. With the playoffs expanded to seven teams per conference, the Bears should still be in the hunt once Deshaun Watson and the Texans roll into town to make Chicago fans feel bad about the 2017 draft again. Any game featuring Bill O’Brien on the other side is always a winnable game, as is any game played against Kirk Cousins or the Jaguars (though traveling around Christmas is never a good thing).
As for that Packers finale, anyone know where I can get odds of Jordan Love being the starter? I need that action like that demon-looking Cheesehead needs more swiss.
Homer prediction: Bears go 16-0, Khalil Mack sacks COVID off the planet
Real prediction I reserve the right to change: 10-6
Wins: @DET, NYG, IND, TBB, @LAR, MIN, DET, HOU, @JAX, GBP
Losses: @ATL, @CAR, NOS, @TEN, @GBP, @MIN
Wait a minute …
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• How the White Sox got Michael Jordan ready for the 1994 season. (The Athletic)
• Forget Ken Griffey Jr and Manny Ramirez: The guy everyone forgets was a member of the White Sox was Chris Sabo. (Sox Machine)
• Speaking of forgotten Chicago ballplayers: I honestly forgot Rick Aguilera was ever a Cub, let alone a captain.
• Catching up with South Korean superstar Tyler Saladino. (Sox on 35th)
• Will Chicago’s music venues survive the lockdown? (Block Club)
• It’s not possible to see this highlight and not press the play button.
That’s it for the week! Everyone have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here on Monday morning with the second-to-last recap for The Last Dance.
Thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.
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