The NFL makes a spectacle of just about anything nowadays and if reports are true we could see regional combines in anticipation of the national combine in Indianapolis. While that’s just speculation at this time, there is another media event tonight. The networks’ NFL season schedule will be released for airing in primetime on the NFL Network. While the matchups are determined through a series of previous season records, it should be interesting to watch when the NFL puts the Bears in the spotlight because of recent free agency acquisitions.
The Bears non-division opponents this year are from the AFC North and the NFC East with home and road games against New Orleans and St. Louis to round out the 16-game schedule. Chicago will be hosting the Giants, Cowboys and Ravens and these games should be big draws for schedule-makers tonight. These games will also be huge on the resale market. The extent of this kind of interest will force FOX to give the Chicago at least two 3:25 starts and NBC could pick the Bears’ home game against Baltimore as a Sunday Night spotlight. It all depends on how teams progress during the season because those 3:25 games are always subject to being bounced around. I expect an early season game with the Cowboys and a late season game with the Giants as NFL execs anticipate that both teams will be competitive down the stretch for a good holiday game. That’s all just a guess but if one were allowed to handpick games, it would be a no-brainer to make Chicago the centerpiece of a few Sundays this autumn and winter.
For the Bears, a benefit of being a winning team is being shown on national TV playing against teams with similar success. It is not mere coincidence that the Packers, 49ers, Ravens and Patriots games will show up in primetime. Or that St. Louis, New Orleans and both Detroit games are noon starts. Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Cleveland will also be relegated to mere regional games, but their performance in advance of the scheduled game could upgrade their TV slots.
One can only be excited about the uncertainty of the upcoming schedule. We all want to watch the Bears atop the national TV stage competing in meaningful games.