Chicago Bears' Charles Tillman (33) grabs the face mask of Green Bay Packers' Eddie Lacy during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. The Bears won 27-20. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Updated: April 24, 2014 10:05AM
It’s April. The NFL draft is yet to happen. And there’s still a training camp and a preseason to get through unscathed.
So season predictions seem premature at this point.
But the challenges ahead for the Bears, who do have the makings of a playoff team under coach Marc Trestman, seem to be clear: five of their first eight games on the road, a new stadium opener against the loaded 49ers, back-to-back Thursday night games (including a Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit), five primetime games and array of former coaches and players to contend with:
1 Sunday, Sept. 7, Noon vs. Bills
Year 2 of the Trestman Era begins with a winnable game at home against a team with a new coach and questions at quarterback.
2 Sunday, Sept. 14, 7:30 pm at 49ers
The Bears are in the primetime spotlight with the Super Bowl-worthy 49ers playing their first regular-season game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
3 Monday, Sept. 22, 7:30 pm at Jets
It’s the Bears’ first of two “Monday Night Football” games and the Jets could still be figuring out if quarterback Geno Smith is right for them.
4 Sunday, Sept. 28, Noon vs. Packers
The Bears get their first taste of defensive-end-turned-hybrid-linebacker Julius Peppers in green and gold in the first month of the season.
5 Sunday, Oct. 5, Noon at Panthers
The NFC South Champions should remain stout on defense, but there are concerns on offense, starting with quarterback Cam Newton, who had ankle surgery March 19 to tighten ligaments.
6 Sunday, Oct. 12, Noon at Falcons
A good team coming off a tough, injury-filled 2013 season believes it added a spark in Devin Hester. Can the Bears’ special teams keep their former star in check?
7 Sunday, Oct. 19, Noon vs. Dolphins
It’s their only home game of a wicked October spent mainly on the road against tough opponents.
8 Sunday, Oct 26, Noon at Patriots
Tom Brady? Bill Belichick? Foxborough, Mass.? This won’t be easy.
9 Bye Week
10 Sunday, Nov. 9, 7:30 pm at Packers
It’s a Sunday night showdown that could distinguish one team as the NFC North leader with the Lions and Vikings both having first-year head coaches.
11 Sunday, Nov. 16, Noon vs. Vikings
The good news: it’s first of five home games over the second half of the season. The bad news: The Vikings still have Adrian Peterson.
12 Sunday, Nov. 23, Noon vs. Buccaneers
It’s arguably the most anticipated game of the season with Lovie Smith matching wits with Trestman and Josh McCown in a QB duel with Jay Cutler.
13 Thursday, Nov. 27, 11:30 am at Lions
It’s the Bears’ first Thanksgiving Day game since 2004 (a 21-7 loss against the Cowboys) and their first taste new coach Jim Caldwell’s Lions.
14 Thursday, Dec. 4, 7:25 pm vs. Cowboys
Scary repeat situation here for Dallas could be brewing. As beers froze over in the Soldier Field stands, the Bears dismantled the Cowboys 45-28 on Dec. 9, 2013.
15 Monday, Dec. 15, 7:30 pm vs. Saints
Quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham and the Saints’ offense did just fine at Soldier Field in Week 5 of last season. Will the December cold help slow them down?
16 Sunday, Dec. 21, Noon vs. Lions
It’s the last home game of season and there’s no better opponent than defensive tackle Ndamakong Suh and rival Lions, who swept the Bears last year.
17 Sunday, Dec. 28, Noon at Vikings
Jared Allen returns to Minnesota but to an unfamiliar place. This will be a cold one with the Vikings playing outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium for two years.