The NFL has not only decided to delay the release of the 2022 schedule until mid-May, but they have also decided to allow the networks to trickle out their individual schedules in the days leading up to Thursday’s release. Why? Because the NFL is led by buffoons. That’s how Criss Angel ends up hanging from a rope at the draft. Someone on Park Avenue said, out loud, “What if we have the MINDFREAK dangle from a rope and do an escape act right before the draft starts?” Then another one of the brain surgeons in the home office responded, “Genius!”
The release of the schedule is a very big deal to many NFL fans because it sets their travel agenda for the fall and winter; a point missed by most beat writers who have no choice but to attend every game and only concern themselves with how many Marriot points they can accrue in Atlanta. The Bears play two games in NJ this season. Fans want to know if the league will run those games back-to-back, creating a killer vacation in NYC and a chance to have a beer with me. Bears at Cowboys will have far more appeal to Chicagoans in December than early September.
Here are some things I’ll be looking to see as the schedules trickles out on social media over the coming days.
- How many times does the league put the Bears in primetime? The Bears are a massive, national draw – no matter how good they are – but this figures to be a season where the NFL could err on the side of a developmental season and keep Chicago in a lot of early Sunday slots.
- When does Josh Allen come to town? The non-division QBs on the home schedule are seriously underwhelming. Hurts, Lance, Wentz, Tua, and Mills aren’t going to be putting many asses in the seats. Allen and the Bills are the marquee attraction, and if that game is in December, I’ll have my flight and hotel booked Thursday night.
- What is the December slate? Yes, the Bears are likely to be more competitive in 2022 than many – including myself – thought. (Especially with their secondary upgrades on draft weekend.) But 2022 will still be primarily about 2023 and how the team, and quarterback, finish this campaign could go a long way towards building fan enthusiasm for the off-season.
- Could there be a hot start? NFL seasons are weird animals, and expectations can change quickly. What if the Bears find themselves playing the Giants, Jets, Texans and Lions in the first quarter? They could easily be .500 or better and dreaming of meaningful football in late December/early January.
- The guaranteed losses. How many really are there on this schedule? Packers probably sweep them. Belichick handles this offense comfortably at home. The Bills are probably the best team in the league. It’s unlikely the Bears will be significant underdogs in any of the remaining 13 games.
This is going to be an interesting season for the Chicago Bears. By the end of the day Thursday, we’ll know where and when the story will play out.