Bears' schedule could prove daunting (again)

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – One of the Bears’ many issues in the John Fox era was their 1-8 record in the month of September.

In every practical sense, the Bears – under Fox – were finished before the leaves changed colors in the Midwest.

In fairness, part of Chicago’s early season struggles can be attributed to its schedule.

In Fox’s first year, the Bears opened against the dangerous trio of Green Bay, Arizona (coming off a playoff berth) and Seattle. As expected, the Bears went 0-3.

Last season, the Bears became the first NFL team since the 1925 Bears to play each of their first 11 games against teams with a .500 record or better – at the time of their meeting with Chicago.

Life might not get much easier in 2018.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Bears’ strength of schedule based on 2017 opponents’ record is .520, tied for the eighth hardest in the league.

Based on last year’s opponents’ records, the Green Bay Packers (.539) have the toughest schedule next season, and the Houston Texans (.453) have the easiest.

The Bears are scheduled to host Super Bowl runner-up New England and the NFC West Champion Los Angeles Rams at Soldier Field. Seattle (did not qualify for the postseason last year) is another team slated to visit Chicago in the fall.

Chicago’s out-of-division road schedule includes a trip to AFC Wildcard winner Buffalo -- the first time the Bears will play in Buffalo since the 2009 preseason.

Of course, fortunes rise and fall quickly in the NFL. Just because a team had a good year in 2017 doesn’t mean it's guaranteed to experience the same degree of success in 2018, and vice versa.

As a reminder, the Bears’ 2018 opponents can be found here.

The dates and times of the games are expected to be released in the coming months.